A Hostile Work Environment Is Never Okay
As a worker, you deserve a safe environment that is free from discrimination and sexual harassment. You shouldn’t have to put up with toxic or demeaning behavior. At FMCO Law, our Chicago-based employment attorneys can help you take a stand against a hostile work environment.
You can count on our attorneys to fight for your rights. We routinely handle claims involving workplace discrimination and have a history of successful outcomes. We will charge you nothing until we win you the compensation you deserve.
Legal Protection From Hostile Work Environments
Illinois law considers a hostile work environment (HWE) harassment, which is considered an unlawful form of employment discrimination. For well over half a century, U.S. laws have moved toward offering more and more protections for workers’ rights, including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Pregnancy Discrimination (PDA)
- Equal Pay Act (EPA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
You should be aware that there are limits to existing laws. For instance, Title VII and the ADA only cover employers with 15 or more employees. The ADEA only applies to businesses with 20 or more workers. Fortunately, the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) closes such loopholes since it protects even workers who are the sole employee of their company.
Although the word “harassment” is frequently associated with sexual harassment, the concept also applies to discriminatory behavior based on actual or perceived:
- National origin
- Skin color
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Sex (including sexual harassment)
- National origin
- Military status
Your employer is responsible for maintaining a workplace in which you can work in an atmosphere that is accepting and non-discriminatory without fear of being targeted by any of the above-protected traits.
What Our Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Can Do
If you have been subjected to a hostile work environment in Illinois, contact our office in Geneva to stop being victimized. Our lawyers have the knowledge and sharp skills to empower you in your fight for fair treatment. We can investigate exactly what has occurred at your workplace by:
- Collecting evidence (e.g. inappropriate posted images, cartoons, phone records, emails, texts, social media posts)
- Interviewing witnesses
- Following your trail of complaints to the defendant, your supervisor, Human Resources department, state or federal agencies
- Attempting to negotiate a fair settlement with your employer
- Filing a lawsuit against your employer if out-of-court negotiations fail
Though you may be frightened to risk your job security by complaining, you’re entitled to protection from retaliation, it is essential to understand that the law will also protect you from retaliation for standing up for your rights. If your employer attempts to terminate, demote or otherwise punish you for complaining or taking legal action, we will make sure they are held accountable.
What Constitutes A Hostile Work Environment?
Just about everyone has occasional run-ins with a coworker or manager who is rude or abrasive. However, to consider your workplace hostile, the behavior must be pervasive and interfere with your ability to do your job.
The legal standard for a hostile work environment is that the comments or actions that target you must be directed at you because you belong to a legally protected class. Their behavior must also be considered offensive by any reasonable person. Of course, this is a subjective standard that often makes claims of a hostile work environment difficult to prove. That’s why you need an experienced attorney at your side.
Those exhibiting problematic behavior might be anyone – coworkers, supervisors, vendors, service providers, customers or clients. Once your employer is informed about the harassment, the company is mandated to take steps to put an end to it.
Examples Of Misconduct That Create A Hostile Work Environment
There are many ways to create a hostile work environment, including:
- Telling inappropriate jokes
- Hurling epithets based on race, national origin, or another protected characteristic
- Calling the targeted person a derogatory name or word
- Insulting others for their protected characteristic
- Ridiculing or mimicking speech, accent, mannerisms
- Frightening or intimidating through words or actions
- Threats or gestures of violence
Specific examples include imitating the way a disabled person walks, mocking a person’s religious beliefs and using a derogatory nickname based on a person’s sexual identity.
Necessary First Steps Before Filing A Lawsuit
Before filing a discrimination lawsuit, you must ask the offender to stop harassing you. If the problem continues, you must report it to your supervisor or human resources. In addition, you are required to file a workplace harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) before you file a lawsuit in federal or state court.
Our lawyers can help you take the right steps to pursue a strong claim.
We Will Fight For The Financial Award You Deserve
If you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, you may be entitled to damages for:
- Lost income
- Lost benefits (e.g. health, pension)
- Lost bonuses
- Emotional distress
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs
We will work tirelessly to secure the financial recovery you deserve after enduring such mistreatment.
Take Your Power Back
We know all too well how painful and humiliating it is to be attacked with barbs and insults every day at work and feel powerless to stop them. But once you get in touch with us, we will offer you the strong legal representation you need to level the playing field.
Contact us today to take back control of your life and see that justice is done. You can also call our office in Geneva at 630-912-5702. We offer contingency representation, which means you won’t have to pay attorney fees out of pocket.