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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney

Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment at work will tell you that it takes a great deal of courage to report the harassment. Victims of discrimination or harassment may worry that their supervisors and colleagues will not believe them or even resent them for reporting the unlawful mistreatment. An even greater fear is that reporting sexual harassment will get them demoted or fired. Fortunately, Illinois law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file sexual harassment complaints. However, recognizing the actions or behaviors that may be considered retaliation is not always easy.  

Understanding Sexual Harassment Laws

Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination prohibited by The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and several other federal and state laws. A worker creates a hostile work environment when he or she repeatedly makes derogatory comments, remarks, or jokes about a person’s body, sexuality, or gender. Displaying sexually explicit material in the workplace, making repeated unwanted sexual advances, and touching others without consent may also be considered sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a person of authority trading sexual contact for work-related benefits or continued employment. If you have been a victim of hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment, you have a legal right to report this harassment. Your employer is required to address the harassment and ensure that it does not continue to happen.

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination prohibited by federal, state, and local laws. Although most news stories about sexual harassment focus on wealthy celebrities or politicians, research shows that workers earning lower wages are at the highest risk of this type of harassment. Men and women working in the service sector make up a large percentage of sexual harassment victims. For a variety of reasons, retail workers employed by malls, department stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores are often especially vulnerable to discrimination and harassment. With the help of a skilled attorney, they may be able to seek damages for their pain and suffering.

Factors That Lead to Harassment in the Retail Industry

Derogatory remarks, jokes about a person’s sexuality or gender, discriminatory behavior, unwanted physical contact, sexually explicit emails, and other inappropriate speech and conduct may contribute to a form of sexual harassment called hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a manager, supervisor, or another person of authority attempting to trade sexual contact for work-related benefits. Retail employees of all ages, races, and ethnicities have reported being exposed to both types of sexual harassment while at work. Experts believe that the high incidence of sexual harassment in the retail industry is caused by a number of factors including low wages, ineffective reporting procedures, and inadequate employee training. Many retail workers live paycheck to paycheck and worry that if they report sexual harassment, they will be assigned fewer work hours or an undesirable work schedule, demoted to a lower-ranking position, or even fired.

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney

Concerns about COVID-19 have resulted in countless employees working from home. At first glance, it may seem as if remote workers are immune to sexual harassment. After all, if you are not in the office, how could you become a victim of sexual harassment? Unfortunately, many employees are still being subjected to unlawful discrimination and harassment even while working from home. If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of these unlawful acts, it is critical that you seek the guidance of a skilled attorney to protect your rights. 

Email or Text Messages May Contribute to a Hostile Work Environment

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when gender or sex-based remarks or behaviors are severe or pervasive enough to devalue working conditions and generate an abusive working environment. When most people think about sexual harassment, they assume that the abuse involves in-person remarks and behaviors. However, virtual interactions can constitute sexual harassment as well. In fact, it is often easier for a person to make inappropriate or demeaning comments to another individual online than it would be in person. Text messages, emails, and programs like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are all avenues that may be used to communicate virtually and harass an employee. Remarks made via video and audio conferencing as well as sexually explicit pictures and videos sent over the Internet may also contribute to a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment may occur between supervisors and employees working from home if the supervisor attempts to gain sexual favors in exchange for work benefits.   

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney workplace discrimination

By now, most people are fully aware that sexual harassment is a type of workplace discrimination that should not be tolerated. When it becomes public knowledge that a company or employer allowed such harassment to continue, that company is often the subject of public scrutiny and boycotts in addition to claims for damages by the victims in question. But, what about the victims themselves? Unfortunately, being a victim of sexual harassment can cause a variety of health issues that could last for many years to come.

Mental Health Concerns

The laws that address sexual harassment in the United States are primarily focused on the responsibility of employers to prevent, identify, and address instances of sexual harassment as a form of employment discrimination. The reality, however, is that the behaviors that constitute sexual harassment are actually forms of physical or emotional abuse. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that sexual harassment victims often suffer serious mental health effects.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysCompanies throughout Illinois and across the country are taking steps to prevent and combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, however, the problem still exists. One of the most devastating effects of sexual harassment at work is that it can make the victim feel isolated, demoralized, and unsure of how to proceed. Some victims assume that ignoring the issue will eventually make it go away, but this is rarely how things work. If you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, you will need to become your own advocate and tell someone.

Moral Responsibility vs. Legal Responsibility

From a moral standpoint, your employer should conduct business in such a way that makes you feel safe at all times. A case could be made that, morally and ethically, an employer should not tolerate even a single inappropriate comment, pick-up line, or unwanted sexual advance by any of its employees.

Legally, things are much different, at least in most cases. While “quid pro quo” sexual harassment does occur, in which the harasser offers promotions, increased pay, or other favorable treatment in exchange for a “date” or sexual favors, workplace sexual harassment often takes the form of hostile work environment sexual harassment. This type of harassment refers to a repeated, pervasive pattern of behavior that affect the victim’s ability to do his or her job.

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree