What Is Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?
In the workplace, everyone deserves to feel safe and respected. Unfortunately, there are instances where individuals may experience sexual harassment, which can not only affect a person emotionally, but may also have an impact on their career and ability to earn an income. Many sexual harassment cases involve what is known as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment in which a person may be offered benefits or threatened with penalties based on their response to sexual requests. However, sexual harassment can also involve actions that create a hostile work environment, which may affect a person’s ability to perform their duties while also having a detrimental impact on their emotional well-being. Employees need to understand how to address sexual harassment, and the steps to take to prevent and/or stop the illegal behavior.
What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
There are some situations in which an individual may experience unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate comments, or other conduct that creates an intimidating or offensive workplace. This is a form of sexual harassment that can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or age.
Some examples of behaviors that may constitute hostile work environment sexual harassment include:
- Sexually suggestive or explicit comments or jokes
- Unwanted physical contact or touching
- Sexual advances or propositions
- Displaying sexually explicit images or videos
- Sexually offensive gestures
- Derogatory or offensive remarks about a person’s clothing, body, or appearance
- Sexual rumors or gossip
Employees’ Rights Regarding Sexual Harassment
A hostile work environment can have significant emotional and psychological consequences for an employee. Offensive comments or actions by others in the workplace can lead to feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and decreased job satisfaction. The victim may also experience difficulties in their professional relationships, and their ability to perform their duties effectively may suffer.
It is crucial for individuals who are facing hostile work environment sexual harassment to understand their legal rights. In the state of Illinois, employees have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment and discrimination. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, employers are required to take prompt and appropriate action to address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
A person who has experienced hostile work environment sexual harassment can take the following steps:
- Document the incidents of harassment, including dates, times, locations, and individuals involved.
- Report the issues to a supervisor, human resources department, or another designated authority within the organization via e-mail so that you will have a record of the complaint.
- If an employer does not take the appropriate actions to stop the harassment and prevent future harassment from occurring, consider filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or consulting with an experienced attorney.
Contact a DuPage County Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, at 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation. Our experienced Wheaton sexual harassment attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals who have been subjected to workplace harassment and discrimination. We can provide guidance on the steps you can take to address your employer’s failure to prevent a hostile work environment, and we can advise you of your options for taking legal action in response to issues that have affected your income, career, and emotional well-being. We will provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the legal process and seek justice.