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Sexual Harassment at Work Violates Human Rights in Illinois

Published: Jan 27, 2017 in Employment Law, Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a sad reality of the American workplace. Poor employee oversight and unethical power dynamics result in thousands of employees being subjected to sexually motivated comments, threats, or physical contact every year. While sexual harassment mostly affects women, men too are often the victim of sexual advances or contact at work.

There are few things in life that are as stressful as facing a threatening and offensive work environment at your place of employment. Fortunately, your company’s policies, local ordinances, state law, and federal regulations provide you with significant protections. If you’re being sexually harassed at work, you should report this to your employer, and in doing so, know that you are protected under the law from your employer retaliates against you for coming forward. You should also consider contacting a sexual harassment lawyer to protect your rights, and the Belleville sexual harassment lawyers of Cates Mahoney, LLC stand ready to help assert your rights in these challenging times.

Filing Your Case With the Illinois Department of Human Rights

In Illinois, most sexual harassment cases can be resolved by the state’s Department of Human Rights (IDHR). This government agency performs the intake, investigation, and adjudication of employment conflicts that involve the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), which you can find at 775 ILCS 5/1-101. Filing your “Charge” with the IDHR is the first, necessary step in bringing a claim for sexual harassment against your current or former employer.

Under the IHRA, sexual harassment consists of:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Any conduct of a sexual nature that significantly affects or conditions your ability to obtain or retain employment, or that creates a hostile working environment.

Under the IHRA, you have 180 days after the sexual harassment incident to make your complaint with the IDHR, but your deadline will often be determinative of whether you are the victim of repeated acts of sexual harassment. The Belleville sexual harassment lawyers at Cates Mahoney, LLC can assist you in filing your “Charge” with the IDHR, and help you navigate the IDHR’s investigative process.

At the conclusion of the IDHR’s investigation, the IDHR makes a determination as to whether there is substantial evidence of a violation of the IHRA, i.e. whether there is evidence that you were sexually harassed. At such time, the IDHR will issue a notice to you of its findings, and you will have 90 days from receiving that notice to file a claim with the IDHR or file a lawsuit in Court. When you elect to have your case proceed to court, a sexual harassment lawyer can help you fight for the best possible outcome.

What Other Laws Prohibit Sexual Harassment in Illinois Workplaces?

Illinois and federal law require that all victims of sexual harassment in the workplace first file their complaints or “charges” with the appropriate governmental agency, such as the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is possible, however, that your case involves other laws, which must be considered when reviewing your potential for recovery. The following laws may apply to instances of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their sex, which includes sexual harassment. The Civil Rights Act also makes it illegal for employers to take adverse action against an employee who complains about discrimination.
  • Illinois Constitution – The Illinois Constitution provides that all employees have the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex in their employment.
  • Local Ordinances – Some cities and counties in Illinois have passed local ordinances that guarantee an employee’s rights to be free from sexual harassment at work.
  • Common law – When someone puts you in fear of being touched in an offensive or unwanted manner, it’s an assault under the common law. When the perpetrator actually touches you offensively, it’s considered a battery.

Additionally, sexual harassment is almost always specifically prohibited by a company or organization’s policies. When an employee–or even a manager–violates these policies, they may face sanctions such as reassignment, suspension, or termination.

If Your rights Were Violated Call Cates Mahoney Today

At Cates Mahoney, LLC, we are driven by a passion for achieving justice for our clients and restoring their dignity. This means aggressively advocating on our clients’ behalf at every stage of the sexual harassment complaint process. Our passion and tenacity haves proven results as evidenced by a landmark $95 million jury verdict the Belleville sexual harassment lawyers achieved for a client who was the victim of sexual harassment at her place of work.

If you want to stand up to the sexual harassment you’ve been experiencing at work, call us at (618) 767-6293 today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.