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Sexual Harassment

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN GENERAL:

Sexual harassment is a problem in the American workplace that will not go away. Generally, it is unlawful to harass an employee or applicant because of that person’s sex. Under the law, the victim and the harasser can be a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a client or customer of an employer. Sexual harassment generally consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. If you believe that you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, learn about your rights under Illinois and Federal Law to be free from sexual harassment. In Illinois, the two major laws used to combat sexual harassment are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Illinois Human Rights Act. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation to learn about your rights under Federal and Illinois employment law to be free from sexual harassment.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT TIME LIMITS:

The law limits the time a victim of sexual harassment victim has to file a claim for sexual harassment. Under Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act an employee or applicant must first file a charge of discrimination with either the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in court. A charge of discrimination for sexual harassment can be dual filed with either the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Generally, an employee or applicant must dual file a charge of discrimination for sexual harassment within 180 days of the last act of sexual harassment with either the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights in order to timely raise a claim for sexual harassment under the Illinois Human Rights Act. A charge of discrimination for sexual harassment can be filed with the EEOC within 300 days of the last act of sexual harassment. The time limits for a federal employee to bring a Title VII claim for sexual harassment is significantly shorter and the process is more complicated. It is very important that an employee or applicant consult a competent attorney as soon as possible to make sure that they have timely filed a proper charge of discrimination for sexual harassment with the EEOC and/or the Illinois Department of Human RIghts. It is extremely important to timely file a charge of discrimination for sexual harassment under both Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act because the Illinois Human Rights provides an employee or applicant with certain advantages and uncapped damages not provided under Title VII. The administrative requirements for filing a Charge of Discrimination for sexual harassment can be complicated. It is in your best interest to contact a competent attorney as soon as possible. Most good attorneys will provide you with assistance in properly drafting a charge of discrimination for sexual harassment and timely dual filing with the EEOC and/or IDHR. If you would like to learn more about how to file a charge of discrimination for sexual harassment, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS UNDER TITLE VII:

Sexual harassment under Title VII requires that the conduct be unwelcome, severe or pervasive, and must alter or affect a term or condition of employment. Title VII only imposes liability on the employer for sexual harassment. The type of liability imposed on an employer under Title VII depends on whether the harasser is a supervisor or coworker. When sexual harassment is committed by supervisor (with authority to discipline or terminate employment) the employer is vicariously liable. The employer is strictly liable if the sexual harassment by the supervisor results in tangible employment action against the victim such as a termination or demotion. However, if the sexual harassment by a supervisor does not result in tangible adverse employment action the employer may raise an affirmative defense to liability for the supervisor’s sexual harassment by proving: (1) that the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct any sexually harassing behavior; and (2) that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer. Most employers have employment policies prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace and placing the burden on the victim of sexual harassment to report sexual harassment. Most employment policies should clearly outline the procedure for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. It is extremely important that the victim of sexual harassment committed by a supervisor that does not rise to the level of tangible adverse employment action take advantage of any employment policy and report sexual harassment as required by the reporting policy. The failure of the employer to take action to prevent further sexual harassment may result in liability. An employer that retaliates against an employee or applicant may have additional liability under Title VII anti-retaliation provisions for retaliating against an employee or applicant for reporting sexual harassment. If you believe that you have been sexually harassed by a supervisor it is very important to consult with a competent attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights to be free from sexual harassment under Title VII. If the harasser is a coworker or customer it is very important for the employee to report sexual harassment under the employee reporting policy because an employer is liable for the sexual harassment under a negligence standard. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 if you would like to learn more about your right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace under Title VII.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT UNDER ILLINOIS HUMAN RIGHTS ACT:

The Illinois Human Rights Act 775 ILCS 5/2-101(E) defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature where (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of of substantially interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

The employer is strictly liable for the sexual harassment of an employee by a supervising employee under the Illinois Human Rights Act. There is no affirmative defense to liability under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The harasser is also liable individually liable for sexual harassment under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Illinois Human Rights Act provides for uncapped compensatory damages caused by the sexual harassment. The Illinois Human Rights Act imposes liability on an employer for sexual harassment by non-managerial employees and/or non-employees only if the employer became aware of the sexual harassment and failed to take reasonable corrective measures. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 if you would like to know more about your rights to be free from sexual harassment under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

OTHER CLAIMS FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

The victim of sexual harassment may have other common law and statutory claims against an employer and harasser. A victim may have a claim under the Illinois Gender Violence Act and a common law battery claim in the case of an unwelcome offensive touching of a sexual nature. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 to learn about other possible claims for sexual harassment.

BATTERY:

We aggressively pursue employers and harassers for sexual harassment. We have successfully brought common law claims against employers and harassers for common law battery when the facts support a such a claim.

ILLINOIS GENDER VIOLENCE ACT:

We have aggressively pursued employers and harassers under the Illinois Gender Violence Act for acts of violence or aggression satisfying the elements of a battery where the facts show the victim’s sex was a basis for the violence or aggression. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation to learn how the Illinois Gender Violence Act can be used to combat sexual harassment.

RETALIATION:

An employer may be liable for retaliating against any victim of sexual harassment who utilizes the employer’s employment policies for reporting sexual harassment under both Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act. Retaliation could consist of discipline, termination, demotion, or other adverse employment action after reporting sexual harassment. If you would like to know more about your right to be free from unlawful retaliation for reporting sexual harassment to your employer, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

An employer can also be liable for retaliating against a co-worker of the victim who opposes sexual harassment by cooperating with the employer’s internal investigation into the victim’s allegations of sexual harassment by providing truthful information that a manager or co-worker was sexually harassing the victim. If you would like to know more about your right to be free from unlawful retaliation for opposing sexual harassment of your coworkers, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

An employer that retaliates against a victim’s co-woerker for refusing to commit perjury by falsely claiming the sexual harassment never occurred could also face claims for whistle-blowing under Illinois common law retaliatory discharge and/or Illinois Whistleblower Act. If you would like to know more about your right to refuse your employer’s demand to commit perjury to cover-up sexual harassment in the workplace, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.