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SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION FOR OPPOSING SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Through my years as an employment law attorney, a large percentage of my cases involve representing victims of sexual harassment and individuals retaliated against for opposing sexual harassment.  I recognize the enormous emotional consequences of sexual harassment and the guilt and shame which often accompany victims of sexual harassment. Privacy and confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements prohibit me from identifying cases, named parties, and the existence and terms of settlement agreements.  However, if you are a victim of sexual harassment/retaliation for opposing sexual harassment, I will take all necessary steps to protect you and stop the sexual harassment, to render no judgment regarding your conduct, to protect your privacy and to stop the harasser from harassing any further victims.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) and various local ordinances prohibit harassment of an employee or job applicant because of that person’s sex (“sexual harassment”).   The harasser can be the victim’s co-worker, the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a customer or client.  Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. Some examples of sexual harassment include the following:

  • You are touched in inappropriate ways, including hugging, kissing, patting, or intentionally being brushed up against in a deliberate way.
  • You are asked questions or comments are made about your clothing, your body or your sex life.
  • You are told sexual jokes that you find offensive, or are repeatedly subjected to sexually suggestive remarks even though you previously objected to these types of remarks.
  • You are threatened with a promotion denial, demotion or termination if you refuse to accept a date or have physical contact.
  • You are subjected to the display of posters, magazines, pictures or screensavers that are sexual in nature.
  • You are subjected to the circulation of explicit or sexually suggestive e-mails.

The same laws that protect you from sexual harassment also protect you from retaliation for opposing sexual harassment or participating in an investigation of sexual harassment. As an employee, you have a legal right to complain about sexual harassment in the workplace.  If you exercise your legal right to complain, it is illegal for your employer to “retaliate” against you by firing you, harassing you, stripping you of your responsibilities, refusing to give you deserved raises, issuing unwarranted discipline, etc.

Title VII applies to employers with at least 15 employees and the IHRA with respect to sexual harassment applies to employers with at least 1 employee.