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Illinois sexual harassment lawyersSexual harassment has been in the news more than ever in the last few years. From famous actors to unnamed hotel patrons, women and men who have been victims of sexual harassment are making their voices heard. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of illegal sex discrimination.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employer or superior offers promotions to an employee in exchange for sexual acts or threatens to fire the employee if he or she does not submit to sexual acts. “Hostile work environment” sexual harassment refers to situations where the employee's work environment is made offensive or hostile due to sexual conduct that negatively affects the employee’s work performance.

Patient Harassment is Par for the Course According to Nurses

Nursing is generally considered to be an extremely demanding career, both physically and emotionally. Nurses are responsible for tasks such as starting intravenous lines, taking blood samples, washing patients, and administering medicine, among much more. They are often physically close to their patients and many of these patients are disabled, elderly, taking medicine which can affect their cognitive abilities, or have been using drugs and alcohol. The combination of the close proximity of nurses to patients along with these other factors has resulted in many nurses being put in uncomfortable and inappropriate situations.

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Illinois sexual harassment lawyers

Despite continued public awareness efforts and educational campaigns, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in today’s society. But, where does the root of the problem lie? Is it simply based in misogyny or are there more complex factors that must be considered? Research is beginning to show that bullying behavior at a young age may be linked with sexual harassment down the road, giving credence to the idea that sexual harassment is, at its core, another form of establishing dominance in a given arena.

A Pattern of Behavior

Several recent studies, including studies from the University of Illinois and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that young adolescent boys who bullied classmates were 4.6 times more likely to commit sexual harassment later in life. Additionally, boys who engaged in homophobic taunts or teasing related to gender or sexual orientation in school were 1.6 times more likely to engage in sexual harassment later.

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorneysMost people are aware that inappropriate touching and overt sexual advances generally constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. Verbal sexual harassment, however, includes more than just requests for physical acts and obvious catcalls. Unfortunately, many types of verbal harassment are obscured by what society tends to consider “normal behavior,” but “normal” does not make such conduct acceptable. If the behavior is consistent and unwanted—and you have made it clear that you want it to stop—you could have grounds to file a sexual harassment complaint.

What Is Verbal Harassment?

It is important to understand that verbal harassment can include suggestions, jokes, or innuendoes. It can also include a co-worker or supervisor asking inappropriate personal questions or sharing intimate details of his or her sex life. In many cases, verbal sexual harassment will be perpetrated subtly against all workers of one gender in a particular work setting, but just because no one person is singled out does not mean that it is not harassment.

If you have witnessed this type of sexual harassment, you can report it, even if you were not the direct victim. When this type of conduct makes the workplace a hostile or uncomfortable place, sexual harassment can be reported by any employee—even if he or she was not the target or subject of the behavior. Verbal sexual harassment must be gauged on how it impacted a victim, not on the intent of the perpetrator.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, national religion, race, color, national origin, and religion. In addition to this important piece of federal legislation, many other federal and state laws prohibit employer discrimination against employees. Employees who experience sexual harassment or any other type of workplace discrimination have the right to report the harassment. Employers are legally obligated to take steps to stop sexual harassment and prevent future harassment. Unfortunately, some employers attempt to retaliate against employees who report sexual harassment.  

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination that involves sex-based remarks or behavior or the trading of sexual contact for work-related benefits. When an employee is a victim of sexual harassment, he or she may feel humiliated, offended, and demeaned. He or she may find it nearly impossible to do his or her job properly under these stressful conditions. No one should have to suffer through this experience.

Employees who are harassed are encouraged to report the harassment to the individual specified by the company’s sexual harassment policy—typically a supervisor or human resources employee. The company then has an obligation to address the harassment and take steps to prevent the employee from further harassment. Unfortunately, some employers do not adequately address employee sexual harassment and some even retaliate against employees who report harassment.

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Chicago workplace sexual harassment attorneysMcDonald’s restaurants can be found across the globe. The fast food company is arguably one of the most successful businesses in the history of the world. However, the company has also recently become notorious for the sexual harassment claims made against supervisors and employees. Recently, the CEO and president of McDonald’s was terminated after it was discovered that he had violated company policy through a romantic relationship with an employee. His termination highlights the ever-growing importance of professional boundaries in the workplace and reminds us that sexual harassment is still a major issue in the U.S. and around the world.  

Understanding Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

There are two types of sexual harassment recognized by the law: hostile environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when sexual or offensive comments, jokes, or actions make a work environment intolerable. Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a superior trades or attempts to trade sexual interactions for work benefits. For example, a shift manager may imply that a worker will get preferential treatment if he or she accepts the manager’s sexual advances. Quid pro quo sexual harassment can also occur when a superior threatens a negative work consequence if the employee does not accept his or her advances.

Some employees may tolerate unacceptable behavior from a superior because they are afraid of being demoted, transferred, receiving a poor performance review, or fired. It is essential that employees understand that they do not have to tolerate unlawful behavior like this at work.

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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