All people deserve to work in a safe workplace without mistreatment and harassment. Your work life directly affects your overall quality of life. However, experiencing workplace sexual harassment affects your mental, emotional, and physical health.
The employment lawyers with Nessler & Associates understand the emotional and mental toll of sexual harassment. They can help you understand how state and federal laws affect your case. You can hold your employer accountable in Chicago, IL, or elsewhere in the state with the help of your lawyer.
Which Laws Detail Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is prohibited under federal and state laws. The definition of workplace sexual harassment is unwanted spoken or physical harassment involving sexual conduct, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It also includes negative language regarding a person’s sex. Aggressors can be supervisors, coworkers, or clients.
These laws focus on harassment creating a hostile work environment or an adverse employment decision, such as demotion or termination. These include legal procedures for bringing a sexual harassment complaint against your employer. Some relevant laws include:
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act bars employers from allowing the sexual harassment of employees. It also prohibits punishing employees who report or file a lawsuit for sexual harassment.
This law allows you to sue your employer for allowing sexual harassment to continue once they know about it. However, it does not allow you to sue the offender.
The Illinois Human Rights Act
The Illinois Human Rights Act prevents employers from engaging in sexual harassment against employees, including unpaid interns and apprentices as employees. It also established a helpline at (877) 236-7703 to report sexual harassment violations and find support from the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
The law requires companies to report any judgments for sexual harassment to the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and prevents companies from naming victims. The IHRC can issue civil fines payable to the Training and Development Fund under the Department of Human Rights for employers who refuse to cooperate with the commission.
In addition, employers must offer sexual harassment training under the law. However, it only suggests that they implement systems for reporting sexual harassment cases without adverse outcomes for victims.
A Chicago sexual harassment lawyer with Nessler & Associates can help you review which state and federal laws apply to your case. They can also help you file a complaint under the appropriate regulations to gain justice.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can happen to anyone. In 2021, 382 people in Illinois filed EEOC sexual harassment charges. Between 25 to 85% of women reported sexual harassment in the workplace. However, only 6-13% of victims filed a formal complaint, and up to 30% spoke with their supervisors, bosses, or union representatives about the harassment.
Sexual harassment includes quid pro quo harassment, a hostile work environment, and sexual assault and abuse.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
In quid pro quo harassment, a sexual favor is exchanged for job security, a raise or promotion, or gaining perks and avoiding punishments. For example, a person in a leadership position, such as a manager or a company owner, may harass an employee by linking their job to sexual favors.
An experienced attorney can help you build a successful legal strategy to hold them accountable. They can help prove that you were the victim of unwelcome sexual harassment that led you to suffer the consequences like retaliation and demotion from your harasser.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
When crude language, gestures, and touches are used in the workplace, it can cause a toxic environment for the employees exposed to unwelcome behavior. Comments of a sexual nature or based on your sex are also considered harassment. If the conduct was severe and persistent, you could make a claim of a hostile work environment with the help of your lawyer.
Workplace Sexual Assault and Abuse
Unwelcome sexual contact constitutes criminal sexual abuse, while sexual assault requires unwanted penetration. Unfortunately, in 2020, only 5.9% of reported rapes resulted in arrests in Illinois. Under Illinois law, unsexual contact and sexual assault are criminal offenses. However, you would need the legal assistance of a lawyer to prove you suffered these types of harassment.
What Should You Do After Being Harassed?
Suffering sexual harassment might affect how you make decisions. The following steps can help you recover from the experience and get justice.
Document Every Action and Verbal Exchange
Do record details of every relevant conversation and action of your harassment. In addition, write critical information from discussions with other employees experiencing harassment and bosses.
Remember not to record events or conversations. Illinois is a two-party consent state, meaning a recorded conversation is illegal unless everyone agrees. However, your lawyer might be able to access surveillance footage that shows harassing behavior.
Research Company Policies
Look at your company handbook, as it typically outlines the reporting process. Usually, this involves taking your complaint to a human resources employee. Then, make your complaint in writing and emails so you can create an electronic trail proving that you’ve taken legal steps to report sexual harassment.
Report Harassment to the IHRC or EEOC
If your boss refuses to stop the behavior, you can call the IHRC helpline or file a complaint with the EEOC. The deadline to file a complaint is 180 days after the incident.
Turn to Your Support System
The physical, emotional, and mental toll of sexual harassment can hurt your health and relationships. Enlist the support of your family, friends, and health care providers. You can also rely on the compassionate support and legal advice of the skilled lawyers at Nessler & Associates to help you with the legal process.
Reach Out to the Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Nessler & Associates
An employment attorney with the law firm of Nessler & Associates can help you get compensated for damages the harassment causes. We can evaluate your claim and help you decide on your next legal action to hold your employer liable.
If you need a Chicago sexual harassment law firm, call the law offices of Nessler & Associates at (800) 727-8010 for a free case review. You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule a free evaluation of your claim and discuss your next steps.