Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects people from being discriminated against based on certain characteristics, including race, national origin, religion, and sex. For example, sex discrimination occurs when someone treats another person unfairly because of his or her sex. This type of discrimination can take the form of sexual harassment in the workplace and could involve unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical harassment, requests for sexual favors, and generally offensive comments about a person’s sex. Illinois employees who have been sexually harassed in the workplace can file a claim against the responsible parties, which may include employers who failed to address the situation, so if you are a Chicago resident and have been the victim of sexual harassment, it is critical to contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney who can explain your legal options.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), recognizes two forms of sexual harassment. The first is known as quid pro quo harassment and occurs when an employer or co-worker who is in a supervisory role abuses his or her power to make an employee’s advancement or position dependent on whether he or she submits to unwelcome sexual conduct.
The second form of sexual harassment is referred to as hostile environment harassment and occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct is so pervasive and severe that it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or career progress by creating an intimidating work environment. Even employees who were not themselves the target of sexual harassment, but witnessed it in their immediate work area may be able to collect damages under a hostile work environment claim.
To fall under either category of harassment, the conduct in question must be unwelcome, which means that it is both:
Common examples of conduct that satisfies the criteria of unwelcome sexual conduct include:
However, the creation of a hostile work environment does not actually have to involve sexual advances. As long as gender is a substantial factor in the discriminatory acts, an employee may be able to establish a sexual harassment claim. In either case, once an employer is made aware of this type of behavior, he or she has a responsibility to act swiftly to address it, which includes making an investigation and taking disciplinary action.
If you live in Chicago and have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline at (312) 558-1454 or by completing one of our brief contact forms and we’ll have a member of our dedicated legal team help you schedule a free one-on-one case evaluation with a skilled sexual harassment attorney.