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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysToday, it is not unusual to see stories about sexual harassment or sexual misconduct on the front page of newspapers—or, perhaps more accurately, internet news feeds. This has not always been the case. For many years, sexual harassment was largely a taboo topic. Countless victims suffered in silence while the perpetrators and their employers were never held responsible for their actions.

While the modern-day discussion of sexual harassment was prompted, to a large extent, by the allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein and the resulting #MeToo movement, many historians suggest that specific allegations made almost 30 years ago were instrumental in creating awareness of sexual harassment for the first time in the United States.

Sex Talk on Television

In 1991, a former U.S. Department of Education staffer testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee regarding how she had been treated by her former boss. The woman’s name was Anita Hill, and her boss was a Supreme Court nominee and federal judge Clarence Thomas. Ms. Hill worked as attorney-adviser to Thomas when he was the Assistant Secretary of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights beginning in 1981. Thomas was named chairman of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1982, and Hill went with him as an assistant. She would leave that job in 1983.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysIn recent years, sexual harassment and other types of sexual misconduct have taken center stage in the American public’s consciousness. A number of high-profile Hollywood personalities, comedians, politicians, and other figures have been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and more.

Sexual harassment, however, is not limited to celebrities. In fact, it is probably taking place at a bar or restaurant near you—possibly even your own workplace.

A Dangerous Profession

According to various studies, bartenders are extremely vulnerable to non-fatal, on-the-job violence—the third-most of any profession. Only law enforcement officers and those who work in security-related jobs are more at risk. Unfortunately, a large portion of such violence is linked to sexual harassment.

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney

Sexual harassment falls into two main categories. The first involves a manager, supervisor, or employer attempting to use his or her position as a means of gaining sexual favors from an applicant or current employee. The other category involves inappropriate actions that create a “hostile work environment.” In order to prove that you have been a victim of hostile work environment sexual harassment according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you and your attorney will need to demonstrate that the harassment was “sufficiently severe or pervasive” to create an abusive workplace. Keeping a sexual harassment log is often the best way to ensure that you have accurate records of harassing incidents or behaviors.  

Record Every Instance of Harassment

A single inappropriate joke or remark most likely will not constitute sexual harassment according to the law. However, an employee should speak up about any statements and behaviors that are disparaging or discriminatory in nature. Even if these actions do not represent sexual harassment in the legal sense, they are still unacceptable. When discriminatory, derogatory, or offensive remarks or behavior become so commonplace that they change the nature of the work environment, the victim may have a valid sexual harassment claim. The best way to ensure that you will have the evidence you need for a sexual harassment complaint is to create a sexual harassment log. In your records, make sure to include information about:

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney quid pro quo

There are two main categories of sexual harassment under Illinois law: hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment. A hostile work environment is caused by severe or pervasive remarks and behavior of a sexual, demeaning, or discriminatory nature, which affect a person’s ability to do his or her job. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person of authority such as a supervisor or boss uses his or her position to gain sexual contact with an employee or job candidate. This unlawful behavior often goes unreported in part due to the general public’s misunderstanding of what quid pro quo actually is and what they can do if they have been a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Requests for Sexual Favors Do Not Have to Be Explicit

Most of the perpetrators of quid pro quo sexual harassment are aware that their behavior is illegal and could potentially cost them their job. Consequently, most employers, supervisors, managers, or other authority figures do not explicitly ask employees for sexual favors. Instead, they imply that the employee would gain some type of benefit if he or she complied with the perpetrator’s offer for romantic or sexual contact. For example, a hiring manager may ask a job candidate out on a date during a job interview and imply that if the prospective employee goes on the date, he or she will have a better chance of getting the job.

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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