Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Web Admin - Friday, September 18, 2015

sexual harassment in the workplace, Illinois employment law attorneySome of the most damaging and costly issues that develop in the workplace are those related to sexual harassment. When sexual harassment is allowed to occur, it creates an environment that is less productive and opens the possibility for serious lawsuits. It is important for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding sexual harassment. For employers, it provides a better understanding of what is required and how to prevent harassment. For employees, it serves as guidance for knowing what behavior rises to harassment.  

Harassment in Illinois  

Sexual harassment is prohibited by federal, state, and local law. Under Illinois law, sexual harassment is defined as any sexual advances or requests for sexual favors when they are not welcomed. Additionally, sexual harassment includes any conduct of a sexual nature when:  

1. Submission to such conduct is an implied or express condition of the victim’s employment; 

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions related to the victim; or 

3. Such conduct substantially interferes with a victim’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. It is a civil rights violation for a person to engage in sexual harassment. 

Further, an employer is considered responsible for the sexual harassment of employees if the employer is aware of the conduct and does not take reasonable corrective measures. While sexual harassment is usually thought of as being sexual in nature, it does not need to be. Sexual harassment occurs when offensive remarks are made about a person’s gender. For example, a woman is sexually harassed if a person makes offensive comments to her about women generally. Victims and harassers can be either a man or a woman. Further, it is also possible for sexual harassment to occur between a victim and a harasser of the same gender.  

Preventing Harassment  

It is the responsibility of the employer to prevent sexual harassment. One of the ways in which this is accomplished is through the adoption and use of a sexual harassment policy. Ordinarily, this policy is part of the employee handbook that all employees should be given. The sexual harassment policy should contain the following: 

1. Definition of sexual harassment;  

2. A statement that harassment will not be tolerated, with disciplinary action for those who commit it; and 

3. A description of the procedure victims should take to file a complaint. Employers should also provide training and education on sexual harassment to both employees and those in supervisory or managerial roles. This training should explain what sexual harassment is, how complaints should be filed, and how complaints should be investigated and addressed.  

Legal Help for Employers and Employees 

For more information about the laws regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a skilled Illinois employment law attorney today. Whether you are an employer or employee, our firm can help. We proudly serve communities throughout the northwest suburbs, including Deer Park, Inverness, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake.

      Ken Apicella

      About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.



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