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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysSexual harassment can make a workplace unbearable. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, you know just how demeaning this particular type of harassment can be. Sexual harassment can consist of disparaging or offensive remarks about a person’s gender, unwanted sexual advances, and sexually-oriented behavior. Sexual harassment also occurs when a supervisor attempts to exchange sexual favors for employment benefits with a subordinate. One of the most important steps for anyone who has experienced sexual harassment is to keep a detailed record of each instance of harassment. This sexual harassment log will almost certainly be beneficial for recalling the details of the sexual harassment you have suffered for the purposes of filing a Charge or reporting the sexual harassment to the Illinois Department of Human Rights and/or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Proving that Harassment is Severe or Pervasive

There are two types of sexual harassment that are explicitly prohibited under state and federal law: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a worker attempts to trade continued employment, a wage increase, or other work benefits for sexual favors. According to the law, even one instance of quid pro quo harassment is illegal. On the other hand, hostile work environment harassment must be “severe or pervasive” enough that it creates an abusive working environment. A single joke from a colleague about how your outfit flatters your body might be inappropriate but it would not likely be considered illegal sexual harassment. However, if this colleague makes sexual statements like these again and again, the problem may meet the legal criteria for sexual harassment.

What Should I Include in My Log?

In your sexual harassment log, write down every instance that something was said or done to you that made you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. This can include sexual or derogatory jokes, statements, text messages, emails, and behavior. Even if you are not sure whether or not the remark or behavior was technically an instance of sexual harassment, write it down anyway. Note the time and location of each instance. You should also record who witnessed the harassment and what your reaction to the harassment was.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysWorkplace sexual harassment is an illegal form of discrimination prohibited by both federal and state law. It can take the form of offensive sexual or gender-based remarks and behavior, or sexual harassment can involve a person in a position of authority wielding this power for sexual gain. We most often think of sexual harassment victims as being those who are lower on the corporate ladder, but this is not always the case. A recent study suggests that women who have manager or supervisor positions may actually be more likely to experience sexual harassment than other employees.

Women Who Supervise Men May Experience Sexual Harassment More Frequently

Since the #MeToo movement began in earnest a couple years ago, more and more people are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace. For too long, the issue of workplace discrimination was considered taboo. Now, as victims of sexual harassment are speaking up about their mistreatment, an increasing number of employers are taking steps to prevent and address sexual harassment in their businesses. Additionally, more research is being conducted to help understand how and why sexual harassment occurs.

One recent study conducted by the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University analyzed the relationship between leadership roles and sexual harassment in the United States, Sweden, and Japan. Contrary to what one might assume, the study found that women supervisors were actually more likely to suffer from harassment than women employees. Women who held leadership positions over men were the most likely to respond that they had been sexually harassed in the past year.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against a person because of their sex, national origin, race, or skin color. Since this essential piece of legislation, many more laws have been enacted to prevent employment discrimination, and most recently, workplace sexual harassment. Beginning in 2020, Illinois employers will be subject to new laws designed to prevent and address sexual harassment. If you have been a victim of discrimination or sexual harassment at work, a qualified sexual harassment attorney can help.

Illinois Employers May No Longer Require Arbitration for Sexual Harassment Claims

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Workplace Transparency Act into law in August 2019 and it will go into effect January 1, 2020. The act prohibits employers from unilaterally requiring arbitration for sexual harassment claims or any other claim concerning laws enforced by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IHRA) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employers are also prohibited from requiring employees to sign a confidentiality clause that prevents the employees from reporting violations of Equal Employment Opportunity laws including violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Equal Pay Act, Illinois Human Rights Act, and Americans with Disabilities Act.

Special Protections for Hotel and Casino Workers

Individuals working in hotels and other businesses within the hospitality industry are sometimes victims of unwanted sexual remarks and conduct by guests. Starting July 1, 2020, many casino and hospitality employers will be required to implement new procedures including:

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorneysMost working adults spend a great deal of time around co-workers. Understandably, sometimes sparks fly and an employee develops romantic feelings toward someone he or she works with. If you have found yourself in this situation you may wonder, “Should I ask my co-worker out on a date?” Dating in the workplace is a controversial subject. While there may be some situations in which dating your co-worker results in no negative consequences, beginning a romantic relationship with a colleague at work can sometimes lead to accusations of sexual harassment.

Dating a Subordinate Can Result in Allegations of Quid Pro Quo Harassment

The two types of sexual harassment addressed in the law are quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a person of authority such as a boss, supervisor, or manager implies or outright suggests that he or she will provide work-related benefits if a subordinate employee submits to his or her sexual requests. What many people do not understand is that a boss can be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if he or she never actually explicitly states that he or she will offer employment, continued employment, or work perks in exchange for sexual contact. You can be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if a subordinate that you are dating assumes that sexual favors are being traded for work benefits.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment refers to a situation in which offensive or sexual remarks and behavior make a work environment so intolerable that the harassed individual cannot perform work duties. In order to meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, hostile work environment harassment must be “severe” or “pervasive.” Asking a co-worker out on a date once will not meet the definition of harassment. However, if you repeatedly ask a co-worker out, it could trigger a sexual harassment claim.

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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