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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysFew would disagree that the #MeToo movement has changed the way most people think of workplace sexual harassment in the United States. The movement began in October 2017 when social media users started using the hashtag “Me Too,” to signify that they had been a victim of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or other wrongdoing. The social media phenomenon came on the heels of sexual harassment allegations against several high-profile celebrities including film producer Harvey Weinstein. It is impossible to know exactly how much success this movement has had in reducing workplace sexual harassment, but a recent study has offered some interesting new information.

Women Polled About Sexual Harassment Show Changing Work Landscape

Researchers from the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business polled women in 2016 and then again in 2018 regarding sexual harassment at their workplaces. The survey shows that while sexual harassment is declining in some ways, that there are still issues surrounding inappropriate comments towards women at work.

Many of the women surveyed reported that certain types of harassing behavior such as staring, leering, and other unwanted sexual attention is less of an issue now than it was two years ago. Nearly 70 percent of women said that they were the subject of unsolicited sexual attention at work in 2016, but only a quarter of respondents said that they dealt with unwanted sexual attention at work in 2018. In 2016, 25 percent of women reported being the victim of sexual coercion while this number dropped to 16 percent in 2018.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysThe issue of workplace sexual harassment is no longer a concealed topic. More and more brave victims are coming forward and saying “enough is enough” with regard to the discriminatory and humiliating problem of sexual harassment. However, there are still many myths and misunderstandings surrounding sexual harassment.

If you have experienced any version of sexual harassment at work, you should know that you do not have to tolerate this behavior. Both state and federal laws prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee who makes a sexual harassment complaint. If you make a sexual harassment complaint to a superior and you are fired or otherwise “punished” for speaking up, you may have a valid retaliation claim.

Sexual Harassment is Not Always Easy to Recognize

In television and movies, sexual harassment is usually extremely blatant and obvious. However, real life examples of sexual harassment are not always easy to identify. For example, many people incorrectly assume that sexual harassment only involves unwelcome sexual advances or demands for sexual contact of some kind. However, sexual harassment can also include unfair treatment or derogatory comments or behavior which is directed toward someone because of their gender. A superior who makes disparaging remarks about men or women could be guilty of sexual harassment even if the comments were not actually sexual in nature.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneyEveryone deserves to work in a place that they feel safe and respected. Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be an issue in workplaces in Illinois as well as across the country. Sexual harassment is a type of employment discrimination protected against by state and federal law.

The two main types of sexual harassment are quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Just as the name implies, hostile work environment harassment occurs when sexual or gender-related comments and behaviors become so intolerable, it makes an employee unable to do his or her job. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of actions constitute hostile work environment sexual harassment.

Examples of Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

There are nearly countless actions which could be considered sexual harassment. Sometimes hostile work environment sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual or romantic advances. For example, if a person’s coworker constantly asks him or her on dates or makes comments like, “When are you going to finally go out with me?” this could potentially be harassment. Unwanted physical contact can also be considered sexual harassment. Employees who do not wish to be touched, hugged, or receive shoulder rubs or other physical contact should have the right to be free from such touching at work. Repeated inappropriate jokes or comments about a person’s body, sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender can also constitute sexual harassment.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysFor many of us, our career is more than just a paycheck. It is also what gives us purpose and helps us grow as a person. When you have worked hard to get a certain job, you may be willing to do almost anything to keep it. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of this and attempt to gain sexual favors from their employees. To be clear, asking an employee for sexual contact in exchange for workplace benefits is illegal sexual harassment. If you have faced this situation, you should know that you are not alone and that there are resources to help you.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

The two main types of sexual harassment under the law are hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment. Quid pro quo is a Latin term which means “this for that.” Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer, boss, or supervisor attempts to trade sexual contact for work benefits. This type of harassment can happen when an employer makes sexual activity with a prospective employee a requirement for getting the job or it can happen when a current employee is solicited by a superior.

Sexual Harassment May Be Subtle

This type of harassment does not have to be explicit. Even the implication that sexual activity will result in work benefits or continued employment may be enough to meet the legal definition of sexual harassment. For example, if a boss makes a sexual advance toward an employee and says something like, “I know you cannot afford to lose your job,” it is reasonable to assume the boss means that he or she will fire the employee if the employee does not agree to the sexual contact.

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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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