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wheaton sexual harassment lawyerA settlement has been reached in a sexual harassment lawsuit against Madison County, Illinois. The substantial settlement amount – $850,000 – was awarded to the plaintiff, an employee of Madison County, who alleged that a former Madison County board member repeatedly sexually harassed her. The plaintiff then alleged that in addition to the board doing nothing to stop the harassment, she was fired for complaining. 

The details in this case reflect circumstances that are often faced by victims of workplace sexual harassment. Below we will explore some of these circumstances, the relevant laws, and what you can do if you face sexual harassment at your place of employment. 

A Hostile Work Environment

There are two primary categories wherein behavior of a sexual nature constitutes sufficient sexual harassment to file a civil lawsuit. One of the cases is called “quid pro quo” – when one person promises a job or a favor at work, such as a promotion, in exchange for sexual favors. 

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illinois sexual harassment lawyerFreedom from sexual harassment is encoded in Illinois law under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Unfortunately, that does not always prevent people from being sexually harassed at work. A shocking half of all women have been the recipient of unwanted verbal or physical sexual harassment at work, but a very small portion of the victims in these cases hire a lawyer and go to court.

Proving sexual harassment can be difficult as it often comes down to relying on individual witness testimony, and it can be hard to judge whether one witness is more credible than another. Adding to the difficulty, the law requires the individual’s behavior to be “severe or pervasive” to qualify as “hostile work environment” sexual harassment. This standard is subjective – meaning it is open to fairly wide interpretation – and different judges have interpreted it differently. 

Keep a Log of the Harassment 

If you are the victim of sexual harassment or retaliation and interested in pursuing a case against your harasser, documenting each incident and keeping records of the harassment can help. It may not be pleasant to do so, but the goal is to stop the harassment – whatever it takes. The following are some examples of details to write down: 

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dupage county sexual harassment lawyerAlthough sexual harassment is prohibited by state and federal law, workplace harassment and discrimination continue to be problems in Illinois. Unfortunately, many employees who are harassed at work never report the inappropriate and unlawful behavior. If you have experienced sexual harassment, you may be unsure whether you should say anything about the harassment. Perhaps you are the type of person who tries to avoid conflict and “get along” with everyone at work. You may even assume that reporting the harassment will only cause greater problems. However, staying silent about workplace sexual harassment is never the answer.  

Harassment Rarely Goes Away on Its Own

Unfortunately, sexual harassment tends to escalate if it is not appropriately addressed. If an employee gets away with making crude jokes at another employee’s expense, he or she may make increasingly disparaging remarks. If a supervisor convinces an employee to go out on a date with him or her by implying that the employee will get a favorable performance review, the supervisor may escalate the behavior into inappropriate physical touch. Ignoring inappropriate or harassing behavior only shows the harasser that you are willing to tolerate being mistreated. The harasser may also be emboldened to act inappropriately toward other employees.  

The Law Protects You from Retaliation

If you are like most people, you may worry that filing a sexual harassment complaint will get you fired. Fortunately, the law specifically prohibits retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment. Retaliation may take the form of poor performance evaluations, reduced work hours, being assigned an undesirable work schedule or work assignments, demotion, or termination. If you were retaliated against after complaining about sexual harassment at work, speak to a sexual harassment lawyer right away.

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DuPage County wrongful termination attorney sexual harassment

Sexual harassment may involve inappropriate, demeaning, or sexually explicit speech and actions at work. It may also involve an employer, supervisor, manager, or another person of authority using his or her position to solicit sexual contact from applicants or employees. Whether it is hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment, sexual harassment violates federal, state, and local laws.

Discrimination and harassment are not only immoral, but they can also cost victims their livelihoods. If you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, you may be considering filing a sexual harassment lawsuit and pursuing compensation for your damages. The exact amount you can gain from a successful sexual harassment claim varies significantly depending on the facts of the case and the type of harm caused by the harassment.

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