Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, all employees have the right to work in a safe environment, free from sexual harassment or sex-based discrimination. The act not only prohibits sexual harassment, but also instructs employers on the steps they need to take to ensure their employees’ rights are fully protected. For instance, businesses are required to issue an employee handbook detailing the company’s policy on sexual harassment and the procedure to follow when filing a complaint. If your company has not provided you with such a handbook and you don’t know what to do, you need to talk to a lawyer and see what options you have.
According to the law, making crude jokes or lewd remarks with a sexual overtone constitutes sexual harassment, if these things happen often enough to create a hostile work environment. The law also prohibits the display of obscene images or drawings around the office, or sending them through email or messaging apps to an employee, with malicious intent. Unwanted sexual advances are also unlawful, as are requests for sexual favors.
When you get in touch with some skilled sexual harassment lawyers they’ll advise you on how you should react when someone is harassing you at work. Some try to pretend they didn’t hear anything or that they don’t care. Basically, it’s the same attitude most kids adopt when they’re bullied in the schoolyard. It won’t help you as your tormentors will double their efforts to make you uncomfortable. Their jokes will become more vicious and it might escalate to inappropriate touching and groping, as they’ll want to find your breaking point.
What you need to do is object and let your coworkers know you find their conduct offensive and they should stop.
Experienced employment lawyers also recommend documenting such incidents, by writing down who was present and what they said. You’ll need all the proof you can gather when it’s time to make a formal complaint. Also, making a list of those present, even if they did not take part in the incident, will be useful as you’ll need witnesses to corroborate your claim and speak on your behalf if the case goes to trial.
The next step is to notify your supervisor or employer of the type of behavior you’re subjected to.
If it’s your boss that’s harassing you, you don’t have anyone to complain to. However, you should file a written complaint with the HR. They won’t be able to help you as it’s their boss, too, but it’s a useful document to have when you take legal action.
If your employer chooses to ignore your complaint, knowledgeable Illinois sexual harassment lawyers will help you formulate a complaint with the state Department of Human Rights. Your attorneys will support you during the mediation process and help you calculate damages.You can seek compensation for lost wages, as well as punitive damages for all the mental suffering the whole situation caused you. If an agreement cannot be reached, your attorneys will probably advise you to file a lawsuit.