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Tag Archives: Illinois Sexual Harassment Attorneys

Illinois sexual harassment attorneysYou have probably seen many news reports about sexual harassment in recent years. After the social media movement #MeToo launched in 2017, more and more people started taking workplace sexual harassment seriously. However, there is still much confusion surrounding exactly what sexual harassment is and is not. Is sexual harassment a crime? What constitutes sexual harassment? Many people are also confused as to the difference between sexual harassment, sexual assault, and “sexual misconduct.” Read on to learn about sexual harassment in Illinois and what you can do if you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work.

Defining Sexual Harassment

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees cannot be discriminated against or treated differently because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Sexual harassment violates the Civil Rights Act as well as Illinois state laws. Unwanted physical contact, sexual or gender-related comments and jokes, sexual advances, and requests for sexual favors can all be considered harassing behaviors. These behaviors become sexual harassment when the conduct interferes with the victim’s ability to do his or her job. “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment occurs when a superior such as a boss or manager attempts to garner sexual favors from a subordinate in exchange for continued employment or workplace benefits.

Sexual Harassment Is Against the Law 

Sexual harassment is typically treated as a civil wrongdoing in the United States. However, some harassing acts may be criminal offenses. For example, if an employee forcibly touches another employee in a sexual way, this can be considered criminal sexual assault. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights. First, report the harassment to the human resources department or your superior preferably in writing via e-mail. If the harassment continues, you should contact an employment litigation attorney before doing anything else. Keep in mind, employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against an employee who reports sexual harassment. Retaliation can include firing the employee, transferring him or her to a less desirable position, reducing his or her work hours, and more. If you were fired or otherwise suffered financial harm as a result of reporting sexual harassment, contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney right away.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysMany people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their friends and family. Understandably, sparks between colleagues can fly and Cupid’s arrow can strike even at work. So, what happens when an employee wants to ask a co-worker on a date? Sexual harassment issues have recently taken center stage in the United States and in many other places around the world. Men and women alike are saying “no more” to employment discrimination and workplace sexual harassment. If you want to start a romantic relationship with a co-worker, there are several things you should keep in mind so that you can avoid sexual harassment allegations.

Find Out Your Company’s Policy on Office Relationships

Research shows that about one out of every three adults in the U.S have been in or are currently engaged in an office romance. While romantic or sexual relationships between co-workers have always been slightly taboo, they are even more dangerous in the #MeToo era. Because of this, many companies have instituted strict rules about office relationships. Some companies ban romantic relationships between co-workers altogether, and many others have procedures for reporting the relationship to the human resources department. Although you may wish to keep your relationship private for personal reasons, violating your company’s policy regarding office romances is a risky career move. If you keep the relationship a secret, it could make the situation look much more sinister than it really is.

Relationships Between Supervisors and Subordinates Spell Major Trouble 

A relationship between a boss and a subordinate is the most concerning type of office relationship. Even if the relationship or sexual activity is consensual, the relationship can cause a serious conflict of interest. If you are a boss and you are interested in asking a subordinate out on a date, consider this: You do not have to explicitly say you will trade sexual favors for workplace perks in order to be accused of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee in a supervisor or boss position uses his or her authority to gain sexual contact from a subordinate. If a subordinate assumes that going on a date or agreeing to sexual contact with you will benefit him or her at work, the situation could come dangerously close to illegal sexual harassment.

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Illinois sexual harassment lawyerSexual harassment continues to be on the forefront of American minds. While some progress has been made to address workplace sexual harassment, there are still many industries plagued by sexual harassment. Employees who work in restaurants, hotels, and bars often experience the humiliation that comes with being sexually harassed. Patrons of these establishments may make crude and inappropriate remarks to employees. Perhaps even worse, many employees in the hospitality sector must also put up with this behavior from co-workers or superiors. Because of this, Illinois has proposed a bill that requires mandatory sexual harassment training for restaurant employees. The bill, called the Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act, if passed, will require all Illinois restaurants to provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees.

Requirements Under the Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act

Illinois is just one of many states which have proposed or enacted employee-protectionist legislation in recent years. In February of this year, Illinois Representative Ann M. Williams proposed the Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act in hopes that mandatory harassment prevention training could help mitigate the high incidence of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. If passed, Illinois restaurant employees must be educated about certain issues related to sexual harassment and how they can help prevent sexual harassment in their own workplace. The topics to be discussed through this training would include:

  • The two types of sexual harassment recognized by law (hostile workplace harassment and quip pro quo harassment);
  • An explanation of what sexual harassment means and the negative effect workplace sexual harassment can have on victims, businesses, and perpetrators;
  • How to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate conduct at work; and
  • How and when employees should report sexual harassment.

Supervisors and managers would be required to undergo additional training about:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_surgeon-female-concerned-scrubs.jpgA recent study presented at this year’s Academic Surgical Congress analyzed the work environments of surgeons. A little over 1000 individuals working as surgeons in private practice, medical centers, or academic institutions, voiced their opinions about their work environment as part of the study. The results were quite distressing, but unfortunately, not surprising. Nearly 60 percent of the women surgeons had been victims of sexual harassment in the previous year alone. Women in medicine, like those in other professions, often face discrimination and sexual harassment because of their gender. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual harassment at work, you should know that there are laws designed to protect you.

Sexual Harassment Is Not Always Obvious

Unfortunately, many harassers become well practiced at hiding their inappropriate behavior from those other than their targets. Sexual harassment can include obvious behaviors as well as subtle or nonverbal behaviors. Survey responses showed that the most common harassing behaviors directed at surgeons included inappropriate verbal and physical conduct. This can include demeaning or sexually-explicit remarks and body language.

Unsolicited sexual advances and forced physical contact had occurred in just under a quarter of cases reported in the survey. Remarks about sexual orientation occurred in about 10 percent of cases. Blatant sexual harassment may sometimes be easier to prove and stop than subtle harassment. However, even subtle harassment is against the law when it is persistent and affects employees’ ability to do their jobs.

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Illinois sexual harassment lawyersEveryone deserves the right to feel safe and be free from harassment when they are at work. Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in the United States and around the world.

Sexual harassment, as it is defined by the law, includes “hostile work environment” harassment and “quid pro quo” harassment. When sex-based remarks, jokes, and other derogatory behavior make a work environment intolerable for employees, this is considered a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment most often involves a superior attempting to garner sexual favors in exchange for work benefits. Employees are protected from both types of harassment by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as various state and local laws. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, it is imperative that you report the harassment. Waiting to file a complaint about sexual harassment can significantly decrease the likelihood that you will receive compensation for damages.

Do Not Make the Mistake of Staying Silent About Harassment or Discrimination

Laws exists to protect employees from both harassment and retaliation. If you have been harassed, but fear reporting it because your employer will retaliate against you, you should know that the law is on your side. Victims of sexual harassment should carefully record any instances of harassing behavior they are subjected to and save copies of harassing emails or text messages. Next, they must follow the procedure outlined in their company’s employee handbook for reporting sexual harassment. If the employer does not resolve the situation, further legal action can be taken. A claimant, or person bringing a claim, can file a sexual harassment civil suit to recover financial compensation for damages like lost wages or back pay.

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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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