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Illinois workplace sexual harassment lawyerOver the last year, national news headlines have been dominated by one story after the next about allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other types of inappropriate sexual behavior. While they have different names depending on the jurisdiction, sexual assault and other types of unwelcome sexual contact are criminal acts. Sexual harassment, however, is a different story. By law, sexual harassment is a form of sex-based employment discrimination. While it is still illegal, it is a matter that is handled through state and federal agencies, as well as the civil court system.

Because it is an employment-related matter, sexual harassment is also somewhat easier to recognize and address than acts of sexual violence often are. Sexual harassment can even be prevented and avoided if those who work together are willing to have open and honest conversations about the topic. Depending on where you work, management may be willing to facilitate such discussion. If a formal meeting is not feasible, consider opening lines of communication with your coworkers on your own—regardless of your gender or your previous experience with sexual harassment.

Men and Women Must Communicate

In many cases, sexual harassment is the manifestation of a power struggle. For example, men who have worked with only other men for many years may feel threatened—even subconsciously—by the introduction of a female coworker. Similarly, a person in a managerial position may get a thrill out of flirting or making sexual advances toward a subordinate as a result of the power differential. However, sexual harassment can also occur due to the differences in the perspectives of men and women.

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Illinois sexual harassment lawyersBeing mistreated at work can be isolating and demoralizing. Many people who find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted sexual attention at work are completely unsure of what to do about it. Some assume that if they ignore the sexual harassment that it will go away, but unfortunately this is rarely the case. If you are being sexually harassed by a colleague or supervisor, you should know that you have every right to stand up for yourself. In fact, doing so will not only help you, but also helps prevent future sexual harassment in your workplace. If you have experienced sexual harassment, do not stay silent.

Survey Confirms Sexual Harassment is Sadly Common

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, approximately 17 percent of women and 7 percent of men claimed to have experienced sexual harassment at work. Data shows that younger employees experience harassment at a more frequent rate than other age groups. The majority of sexual harassment victims do not report the mistreatment or even confront their harasser for fear of being labeled a “trouble-maker” or losing their jobs.

What to Do If You Are Being Sexually Harassed

If you have been the victim of inappropriate and harmful harassment at work, first, know that this behavior is unacceptable. You have a legal right to be free from sexual harassment per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Illinois Human Rights Act. The first step in fighting against sexual harassment is to document any and all instances of the inappropriate behavior. Record what was said and done, who was involved, and how the incident has negatively affected your ability to do your job. Next, report the harassment to a superior or your HR department via e-mail so that you have an electronic record of what you reported. If you report the sexual harassment and your employer still refuses to take corrective action, you should immediately meet with a trustworthy employment lawyer.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysIt is no secret that the majority of people employed in technology jobs are men. The video game development company Riot Games is no different. The company is responsible for the wildly popular game League of Legends and also for organizing eSports tournaments. Recently, the tech company has been accused of significant sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex.

Video Game Developer in Hot Water Over Alleged Gender Bias

Kotaku, a video game website and blog that is part of the Gawker Media network, spoke with 28 former Riot Games employees who had a few very disconcerting things to say about the development company. Several female employees claimed that they had experienced discrimination at the company because they were women. They say that Riot Games regularly overlooked ideas coming from female employees while applauding the same ideas from men. The former employees also spoke of times that a senior female employee would be passed up for a promotion in favor of a male new hire. The women interviewed by Kotaku described the work environment at Riot games as a “bro culture.”

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Illinois sexual harassment lawyersYou may know actress Rashida Jones from television shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation, but more recently, she has been a passionate advocate for addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Jones, along with musician Donald Glover and Blue Seat Studios, created the video public service announcement (PSA) in order to help educate the public about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to spot it. Jones hopes the video will help people understand which behaviors are and are not acceptable at work, as well as empower victims of sexual harassment to seek help.

Sexual Harassment Is Not Always Obvious

After media mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused by multiple women of various sex crimes, the entertainment business finally began addressing the rampant sexual harassment and sexual assault in Hollywood. However, Jones and other anti-sexual harassment advocates want the public to know that sexual harassment does not only happen to the rich and famous, nor is it always glaringly obvious. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate on the basis of wealth, status, gender, race, or religion.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysThere are two types of sexual harassment according to the law: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile workplace sexual harassment. A supervisor requiring a subordinate to perform sexual favors in order to keep his or her job, for example, is quid pro quo sexual harassment. An employee who shares sexually explicit images with coworkers or consistently asks them inappropriate questions could be contributing to a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment is not always obvious, and it may sometimes be difficult to know what constitutes harassment.

Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment can include requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. In order to be considered sexual harassment by law, these behaviors generally must be severe and pervasive. The legal definition of what specific behaviors constitute sexual harassment is vague. However, workers should know that inappropriate behavior does not have to be grandiose in order to qualify as sexual harassment. Subtle signs of sexual harassment may include:

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