Common Questions About Sexual Harassment, Answered

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_233823685.jpgEmployees have certain rights, including the right to be free from harassment and discrimination at work. Despite continued efforts to eradicate harassment and discriminatory practices from American workplaces, sexual harassment continues to be a problem. Every worker should be aware of his or her rights and know the signs of sexual harassment. The greater number of people who stand up against unlawful harassment, the closer we get to eliminating this problem.

What Counts as Sexual Harassment?

Many people ask whether certain behaviors constitute sexual harassment. To be clear, employees should speak up about any behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable. That being said, federal law breaks sexual harassment down into two main categories. Using a position or authority to coerce sexual favors from an employee is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Hostile work environment sexual harassment involves severe or pervasive conduct that creates a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment.

What Should I Do About Sexual Harassment?

If you are sexually harassed at work, report the harassment in writing immediately. Follow the reporting procedures listed in your employee handbook. Additionally, keep a sexual harassment log in which you record each instance of harassment, exactly what happened, and who was witness to the harassment. Write down the dates and time of each incident. If your employer does not take corrective action and resolve the problem, you may need to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). If you are issued a “right to sue” letter by the IDHR, you may file a civil claim against your employer.  

What if My Employer Retaliates Against Me?

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a sexual harassment complaint. Retaliation can take many forms, including:

  • Decreased work hours or salary
  • Being denied warranted promotions and raises
  • Termination or demotion
  • Being transferred to less-desirable work assignments or schedules
  • Verbal or physical abuse

Workers who are retaliated against may be entitled to legal remedies including monetary damages.

What Types of Legal Remedies Are Available to Sexual Harassment Victims?

The types of legal remedies offered to sexual harassment victims vary from case to case. If an employee is fired or forced to quit because of harassment, the employee may be reinstated at his or her job. Employees may also be entitled to back pay and compensation for court costs or attorney’s fees. Monetary damages may also be awarded for emotional distress. The employer may be required to establish sexual harassment policies and procedures or anti-harassment training.

Contact a DuPage County Sexual Harassment Lawyer

If you were sexually harassed or retaliated against for reporting harassment or discrimination, contact MKFM Law for help. Our Wheaton sexual harassment attorneys can help you understand your legal options and take the next steps. Call us today at 630-665-7300 for a free, confidential consultation.


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