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Workplace Harassment

An employer could be liable for workplace harassment of employees by supervisors and/or co-workers on the basis of an employee’s race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age, pregnancy, or sexual orientation under various federal statutes and the Illinois Human Rights Act. An employer can also be liable for workplace violence for terminating or retaliating against employees that report incidents of workplace violence. Sexual harassment is the most common form of workplace harassment. However, an employer can also be liable for a supervisor’s or co-worker’s harassment of an employee on the basis of that employee’s race, national origin, religion, disability, age, pregnancy, or sexual orientation. You work hard to do your job and to provide for yourself and your family. The last thing you need is to endure harassment on the basis of your race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age, pregnancy, or sexual orientation. If you believe that you are the victim of workplace harassment on the basis of your race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age, pregnancy, or sexual orientation, please call Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648, for a free consultation.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

This is a problem that will not go away and continues today. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 as well as the Illinois Human Rights Act. The two most commonly used statutes to combat sexual harassment are Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Sexual harassment can involve demands for sexual favors in exchange for hiring, benefits, advancement, promotions, pay raises, and forbearance of discipline. Sexual harassment can include situations where submission to or rejection of sexual conduct by an employee is used as a basis for termination, demotion, discipline, reduction of hours, reduction of pay, or transfers to undesirable assignments. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome touchings of a sexual nature, and other conduct that is severe  or pervasive so as to alter the terms or conditions of the work environment.

Sexual harassment cases normally consist of harassment of females by males. However, we are seeing sexual harassment claims involving harassment of males by females and same-sex harassment. Regardless of the form sexual harassment takes it is a violation of Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

TITLE VII

The employment position of harasser determines the liability of the an employer for sexual harassment in the workplace under a Title VII claim for sexual harassment. Under Title VII, an employer is generally liable for sexual harassment created by a supervisor with immediate or successively higher authority over the victimized employee. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that a “supervisor” is defined as an employee empowered to by the employer to take tangible employment action against the victim such as to effect a significant change in employment status like hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing significant change in benefits. If a supervisor’s sexual harassment of the victimized employee results in tangible employment action, the employer’s liability is strict. If the supervisor’s sexual harassment of the victimized employee does not result in tangible employment action, the employer may raise an affirmative defense to liability and damages by proving the employer had an anti-harassment policy with a complaint procedure and that the victimized employee failed to use the complaint procedure to avoid the harm. An employer that retaliates against the victimized employee for reporting what he or she reasonably believed to be sexual harassment can be liable retaliation under Title VII.

Under Title VII an employer has liability for sexual harassment committed by a victimized employee’s co-workers where the employer was negligent in failing to prevent harassment from taking place by failing to monitor the workplace, failing to respond to complaints of sexual harassment, failing to provide a system for registering complaints of sexual harassment, or effectively discouraging complaints of sexual harassment from being filed.

If you believe that you are a victim of sexual harassment, you need to contact an experienced attorney immediately. A victim of sexual harassment must file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC in a short period of time in order to make a claim of sexual harassment under Title VII. Failure to timely file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC can result in a decision in favor of your employer. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation before it’s too late.

ILLINOIS HUMAN RIGHTS ACT-SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-102(D), an employer is strictly liable for the hostile work environment sexual harassment of its supervisory employees, even where the supervisor has no authority to affect the terms and conditions of the complainant’s employment. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, and unlike Title VII, the employer has no affirmative defense, even if the sexual harassment did not result in tangible employment action. The Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-102(D), allows the victimized employee to bring a cause of action against his/her employer and the harasser. Under Title VII, the victimized employee can only bring a cause of action against his/her employer and not the individual harasser.

The Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-101(E) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (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 such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, liability for sexual harassment is not strict for an employer if the harasser is not a supervisor or a non-managerial employee or a non-employee. Under 775 ILCS 5/2-102(D) an employer is liable for sexual harassment of its employees by non-employees or non-managerial employees (co-workers) only if the employer becomes aware of the conduct and fails to take reasonable corrective measures.

If you believe that you are a victim of sexual harassment, you need to contact an experienced attorney immediately. The Illinois Human Rights Act provides sexual harassment victims with a short time-frame in which to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights for sexual harassment against their employer and the harasser. If you fail to meet this short deadline you could be barred from seeking compensation from the responsible parties. If you believe that you are a victim of sexual harassment, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 immediately for a free consultation before it’s too late.

OTHER TYPES OF CLAIMS FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

Once we are retained by a client who has been a victim of sexual harassment, we relentlessly pursue the employer and the harasser not only under Title VII and the Illinois Human Rights Act but also under common law theories of liability such as battery if the sexual harassment involves unwelcome touching of a sexual nature. We have also successfully represented victims of sexual harassment by filing claims under the Illinois Gender Violence Act, 740 ILCS 82/1, et al., when the sexual harassment met the standards required for liability.

You work hard to earn a living and provide for your family. The last thing you need to deal with is a sexually hostile work environment. Stop being a victim of sexual harassment and contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

You work hard to earn a living and support your family. The last thing you need is to be physically assaulted or threatened with physical violence by a co-worker or supervisor while you trying to do your job and earn a living. If you report an instance of physical assault or a threat of physical violence to your employer and your employer retaliates against you or refuses to do anything about it, you may have a claim. Firing an employee for reporting an instance of workplace violence violates public policy and can give rise to a claim for the tort of retaliatory discharge. Daoust v. Abbott Laboratories, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2138*13 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2007). Additionally, should a co-worker or supervisor physically assault you or threaten you with physical assault, you can call the police and report the matter to law enforcement. If your employer retaliates against you for reporting workplace violence to the police it may have violated the Whistleblower Act, 740 ILCS 174/15(b). If you are experiencing violence in the workplace, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.