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Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in Illinois

There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace in Illinois: quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment. If you have suffered from verbal, physical, or visual sexual harassment as an employee, contact the Mahoney Law Firm to understand the type of sexual harassment you experienced and your legal rights to file a complaint.

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    Enduring sexual harassment in the workplace can affect your health and well-being. It also is unlawful, with consequences for both the perpetrators and employers, whether they permit the harassment to continue or employ supervisors who engaged in the conduct.

    If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, it is helpful to understand the types of unlawful conduct under federal and Illinois law. In addition, you may want to know your employer’s responsibility for stopping the harassment and your options for filing a complaint.

    The Mahoney Law Firm has an excellent track record of representing individuals in Illinois and across the Midwest in sexual harassment cases in the workplace. We can help you end the harassment and seek justice for the harm you’ve endured. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

    Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Meanwhile, the Illinois Human Rights Act specifically prohibits sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity in the workplace. Some counties or cities, such as Chicago, also have ordinances prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace.

    Under Illinois and federal law, there are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment.

    Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when a supervisor requests, implicitly or explicitly, sexual favors in exchange for keeping a job or as the basis of an employment decision. The supervisor could offer you a promotion, preferred work assignment or schedule, or raise in exchange for sexual favors. It also is considered sexual harassment if the supervisor removes your access to them or makes a negative employment decision after you reject the quid pro quo arrangement.

    Hostile work environment sexual harassment involves unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature or requests for sexual favors. The law requires that the behavior must interfere with your performance or make your work environment hostile. Anyone associated with your work environment may be responsible for creating a hostile work environment, including a colleague, supervisor, contractor, or any other person in the workplace.

    Forms of Harassing Conduct

    Sexual harassment in the workplace can take several forms:

    Verbal sexual harassment involves unwanted spoken or written communications, including:

    Physical sexual harassment involves physical contact and includes:

    Visual harassment involves behavior or material shown to the victim or others and includes: 

    All three forms of sexually harassing behavior in the workplace are illegal under federal and state laws.

    Examples of Different Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

    In many cases, the conduct that leads to a finding of sexual harassment may not fit neatly under the label of quid pro quo or hostile work environment. There are also cases where physical, visual, and verbal conduct overlap to create sexual harassment.

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    Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

    There are many recent examples of hostile environment sexual harassment in Illinois. In the case of Sangamon Co. Sheriff’s Dept. v. IHRC, a records clerk filed a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission against a sheriff’s department, alleging her supervisor retaliated against her after she refused to participate in sexual activity. She claimed the department’s actions created a hostile work environment. The employee alleged her supervisor:

    In addition, the supervisor allegedly sent a forged letter to the employee informing her that she had a sexually transmitted disease.

    The commission determined that the supervisor’s actions created a hostile work environment. It held the sheriff’s department liable because the supervisor was in a managerial position.

    Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in Illinois

    There are also many recent examples of quid pro quo harassment in Illinois. For example, in a case before the Illinois Human Rights Commission, Jacquee Jones v. Mac’s Lounge, Inc., a part-time bartender sought to discuss receiving hours on the work schedule with the tavern’s manager.

    During the conversation in his office, the manager exposed his genitals and requested that the employee show him her breasts. The employee refused, stating she would not have sexual intercourse with the manager to obtain work hours. When the employee tried to leave, the manager cornered her, touched her breasts, and repeatedly asked the employee to have sex with him.

    The Human Rights Commission concluded that the manager’s actions met the definition of quid pro quo harassment because the sexual conduct was unwelcome and took place while the employee was requesting hours on the schedule.

    The case also presents a situation where the types of sexual harassment overlap because the commission further concluded that the manager’s actions created a hostile work environment. The commission said that even though it was a single incident, the employee’s sense of security would be affected. Thus, the manager had created a hostile environment, the commission concluded.

    Consequences of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

    Sexual harassment significantly impacts employees and has consequences for employers. When employers become aware of workplace sexual harassment, they must take action. Employees who witness sexual harassment need to report it.

    Employees subjected to sexual harassment experience:

    Stress, fear, and anger are also common after experiencing sexual harassment. Missed days of work and reduced productivity can result. This often damages a victim’s chances for promotion and salary increases. Employers suffer, too, from the reduced productivity and turnover associated with sexual harassment.

    However, employers can also face liability for the actions of their employees. Specifically, courts have held employers liable when the perpetrator was in a managerial position, or the employer knew about the harassment and failed to correct the issue. Employers may also suffer financial ramifications and reputational risk when sexual harassment occurs.

    Contact the Mahoney Law Firm to Fight Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

    If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment, you can protect your rights and hold your employer accountable. Contact Mahoney Law Firm for legal representation and support. Our experienced attorneys have a track record of successfully representing victims of sexual harassment in Illinois. We will fight for your rights and help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. Don’t wait. Call us at 618-822-2833 today to schedule a free consultation.

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