Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Our sexual harassment lawyers assist employees being harassed whether through sexual misconduct or other illegal conduct. In Illinois, it is often illegal to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability. In addition, employers may not terminate, demote, refuse to hire, refuse to promote, or base any other terms and conditions of an employee on any of the above characteristics as well as others. An employer who chooses to do so may be violating state and federal discrimination and sex harassment laws that were established to protect an employee’s right to work in an environment that is free of discrimination and sexual harassment due to their membership in a protected class. Harassment is prohibited under federal law by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and under Illinois state law by the Illinois Human Rights Act. It is also often illegal to retaliate against an employee who seeks to protect their legal rights for example by making a sexual harassment complaint or hiring a sexual harassment attorney.

Sexual harassment sometimes occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome comments, actions, jokes, or mistreatment by a supervisor, employer, co-worker, or customer in the workplace in connection with the employee’s job based on the employee’s membership in a protected class. To be actionable, the harassment must be more than a supervisor or co-worker failing to be nice to the employee. Rather, the sexual harassment must be severe enough to create a “hostile work environment” which is a term that a sexual harassment lawyer can explain.

Under Illinois law, a hostile work environment is created when actions, comments, jokes, or other harassing conduct are so constant and pervasive that a reasonable person would find the environment “hostile.” Therefore, an isolated incident typically is not considered a harassing work environment until it becomes repeated. This can be based upon sexual harassment or other illegal employment practices.

To establish a harassment claim, an employee must prove he was subjected to conduct based on his membership to a protected class, the conduct was unwelcome, the conduct was so pervasive that a reasonable person in the same position would find the environment hostile, the employer knew or should have known about the conduct, and the employer did not take reasonable steps to remedy the situation or prevent the harassment from recurring. Sexual harassment lawyers are familiar with the standard necessary to show sex discrimination.

Employees who feel they are being sexually harassed or discriminated against must first look to the employer’s harassment and discrimination policy and should talk to a sexual harassment lawyer or an employment attorney. Typically, the employer’s policy will require the employee make the employer knowledgeable of the conduct—either verbally or through writing. An employee’s failure to follow the sexual harassment policy as outlined can lead to the employer not being responsible for the harasser’s actions. If there is no sexual harassment policy, an employee must still make a complaint regarding the conduct to management personnel.

Our Illinois employment law firm litigates employment discrimination cases on behalf of both employers and employees. We litigate before courts throughout Illinois and also the administrative agencies that enforce employments laws such as the EEOC, the Department of Human Rights, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).