Employees are protected from being sexually harassed by employers and co-workers under both federal and state law. While many employers are careful to abide by these laws to create a safe and comfortable workplace for employees, others allow harassment to continue unchecked or actually participate in the prohibited acts themselves. Fortunately, victims of workplace sexual harassment do have legal recourse, so if you or a loved one were harassed while at work, it is critical to speak with a skilled Chicago sexual harassment attorney who can help protect your interests.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act strictly forbids sexual harassment in the workplace. According to this federal law, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This applies whether the threat is explicit or implicit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recognizes two types of sexual harassment that satisfy this definition, including:
Whether conduct is severe enough to reach the level of either quid pro quo harassment or hostile environment harassment depends on whether it is unwelcome to the victim. Unwelcome conduct has been described by courts as conduct that is:
Examples of unwelcome sexual advances include touching, kissing, hugging, fondling, or touching oneself for someone else to view as long as those actions create a hostile work environment or are made a condition of continued employment. However, there is no clear test to determine whether a workplace environment has become hostile. Instead, courts assess a series of factors, including:
If a court applies these factors and determines that an employee suffered sexual harassment in the workplace, the victim’s employers, as well as the perpetrators can be held accountable. This is true even when an employer did not commit the harassment, but knew or should have known that the conduct was occurring. The only way that such an employer could escape liability is if he or she took immediate and appropriate action to alleviate the situation.
Employees have the right to be free of sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to occur at an alarming rate, which can have emotionally and physically devastating consequences for victims, so if you live in Chicago and have been the recipient of unwanted sexual advances at work, please contact the legal team at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline by calling (312) 558-1454 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and compassionate sexual harassment attorney.