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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysIt is an unfortunate reality that sexual harassment allegations are prevalent in the restaurant industry. In fact, over 14 percent of the 41,250 sexual harassment claims filed between 2005 and 2015 in the U.S were in the food service and hospitality sectors. One study found that 40% of women have experienced unwelcome sexual behaviors while at work. Fortunately, public perception of sexual harassment is changing, and many behaviors which were once tolerated are no longer socially acceptable.

Close Proximity and Availability of Alcohol May Contribute to Harassment Risk

There are several reasons that sexual harassment is such an issue in the food service industry. In some circumstances, restaurant owners or chefs have absolute power. If a chef who brings in massive revenue for the restaurant sexually harasses a server, the restaurant may simply fire the server. Employees who are unaware of their legal rights may assume they must tolerate unwanted attention because their immediate boss will not stop it. This is worsened by the fact that many young people work in restaurants. A young teenager at their first job may assume that all work places involve inappropriate behavior since they have no other work experience to use as a comparison. The close quarters of many restaurants can also increase the prevalence of sexual harassment. Employees who work at bars and restaurants with alcohol may have the greatest risk of being sexually harassed because of the inhibition-lowering effects of drinking.

Employers Can Be Held Liable if They Allow Employees to be Sexual Harassed

Many servers, bussers, cashiers, and other restaurant workers have experienced instances when a customer did or said something that made them feel very uncomfortable, but they did not say anything for fear of losing tip money. While customers acting inappropriately toward an employee itself is not considered unlawful sexual harassment, if it is reported and the employer does nothing to stop it, the employee can bring a claim of hostile work environment sexual harassment against the employer.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysSexual harassment can be devastating for those victimized by it. If you are being treated inappropriately at work, you may feel embarrassed, helpless, angry, and unsure of how to respond. First and foremost, you should know that sexual harassment is never acceptable and that every person, regardless of gender or status, deserves to feel safe at work. If you are currently being sexually harassed, it is critical that you document every instance of harassment.

Sexual Harassment is Against the Law

Although some perpetrators claim otherwise, sexual harassment is against both local and federal law. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination or harassment due to a person's sex. There are two types of sexual harassment according to the law. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a superior encourages an employee to trade sexual favors for workplace perks or continued employment. Hostile workplace harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, sexually-charged and offensive remarks, and inappropriate physical contact. In order to be considered illegal harassment, hostile workplace sexual harassment must be severe or pervasive enough to make the victim unable to complete his or her work.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysThere are two types of sexual harassment according to the law: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile workplace sexual harassment. A supervisor requiring a subordinate to perform sexual favors in order to keep his or her job, for example, is quid pro quo sexual harassment. An employee who shares sexually explicit images with coworkers or consistently asks them inappropriate questions could be contributing to a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment is not always obvious, and it may sometimes be difficult to know what constitutes harassment.

Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment can include requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. In order to be considered sexual harassment by law, these behaviors generally must be severe and pervasive. The legal definition of what specific behaviors constitute sexual harassment is vague. However, workers should know that inappropriate behavior does not have to be grandiose in order to qualify as sexual harassment. Subtle signs of sexual harassment may include:

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Illinois sexual harassment lawyersSexual harassment has recently been in the news more frequently than ever before. Ever since more than 80 women made allegations that film producer Harvey Weinstein had sexual harassed, assaulted, or even raped them, alleged victims of sexual harassment have been reporting incidents all over the country. The latest industry to be scrutinized for its allegedly lax sexual harassment and sexual assault policies is airlines.

A recent report on the incidence of sexual assault on airplanes shows a troubling 66 percent increase from 2014 to 2017. On average, one in five flight attendants have received a report of a passenger-on-passenger sexual assault. Alarmingly, the police were contacted in less than half of these incidents. The push is now for airlines and other industries to establish and enforce clear policies against sexual harassment in order to help prevent further inappropriate and harmful behavior.

American’s Battle Against Sexual Harassment

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorneysUnder Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal to discriminate against any employee on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex or nationality. This means that an employer cannot use a person’s gender as an excuse to treat him or poorly. Sadly, sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be a common occurrence, as a recent high-profile example demonstrates.

In April, the controversial television host Bill O’Reilly was fired from the Fox News Channel after five women claimed that they were harassed by him. O’Reilly allegedly made inappropriate remarks about a woman’s skin color, allegedly made lewd comments to other women, and allegedly even called women on the phone while he was masturbating. The women were allegedly told that if they complained that they would “pay so dearly that [they]’ll wish [they] had never been born.” Reports indicate that O’Reilly and the network have paid out more than $13 million in settlements related to the allegations.

Two Types of Sexual Harassment

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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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