Illinois Sexual Harassment Information
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Illinois Sexual Harassment
Q: Can my employer retaliate against me for filing a sexual harassment claim?
A: Many employers involved in sexual harassment lawsuits often retaliate against the employee filing a sexual harassment claim. In Illinois, retaliation is illegal, and federal laws are designed to protect you. If you are fired or passed over for a promotion as a result of filing a sexual harassment claim, or you are forced to quit your job, by law your employer will be held liable. .
Q: Is sexual harassment only men harassing women?
A: No. Sexual harassment can be done by either a man or a woman. According to the Illinois Human Rights Act, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors” in exchange for services that may affect employment status.
Q: Is it sexual harassment if I ask a co-worker for a date?
A: In Illinois, it is not against the law to ask a co-worker out on a date. However, if the answer is “No” and you repeatedly ask the same person to go out with you, under the given circumstances you could be charged for sexual harassment or for creating a hostile work environment.
Q: I had an intimate relationship with a co-worker but broke it off. If that co-worker harasses me, can I still bring a claim for sexual harassment?
A: Yes. No matter what kind of relationship you had with someone, sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual advance, and you have every right to file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can also file a personal lawsuit with the help of an employment attorney, and you can also file under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Q: If a co-worker or supervisor comments on my clothing or appearance, is that sexual harassment?
A: If a co-worker or supervisor compliments you on your outfit it doesn't necessarily constitute sexual harassment. For example, if someone at your job says to you “I like your outfit” or “That's a really nice shirt you're wearing”, it is not sexual harassment. However, if the compliment is followed by a remark about your physical attributes or includes references to your private parts, then yes, the compliment could easily be considered a verbal form of sexual harassment.
Q: I was denied a promotion, and I've learned that the promotion went to my supervisor's boyfriend. Is this sexual harassment?
A: It is not sexual harassment if you are passed over for a promotion in favor of your supervisor's boyfriend. However, if you were denied a promotion because you refused to sleep with your boss or give sexual favors to your supervisor, then yes, that would be sexual harassment. Just because your supervisor decides to promote their boyfriend or girlfriend instead of you, doesn't make it a sexual harassment case.
Q: A fellow employee spends a lot of time downloading pornography from the Internet to his work computer. Is this sexual harassment?
A: Depending on the situation, this type of action could be a form of sexual harassment. If a fellow employee is showing you pornographic material and/or making explicit comments to other coworkers about pornography and you are made to feel uncomfortable, this creates a hostile work environment. Also, you could be an innocent bystander or witness a sexually harassing situation and still file a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Q: The other day, a fellow employee told me a joke that had mild sexual content. I wasn't offended by it, and we both found the joke to be funny. Today, we both got a memo from our boss saying our conduct was inappropriate and a potential violation of the company's sexual harassment policy. Was the joke harassment?
A: All companies in Illinois have a responsibility to create a safe working environment for all their employees. If a joke was told with sexual connotations and someone overhearing it found it to be offensive, it could create a hostile working environment, which is another form of sexual harassment. Either way, telling a dirty joke at work is deemed inappropriate.
Q: A regular customer of my employer makes offensive sexual remarks every time I see him. Is this sexual harassment?
A: If you informed your employer about a customer making sexually offensive remarks and your employer did nothing to handle the situation, then yes, under Illinois law, this type of harassment would be considered third-party sexual harassment.
Q: Is sexual harassment ever a criminal matter?
A: Sexual harassment can be a criminal offense in Illinois if it involves sexual assault, stalking, or any threat of sexual misconduct. If you have been physically violated in conjunction with sexually harassing behavior, contact an employment attorney immediately.