At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC, our employment attorneys frequently handle cases of sexual harassment. We are committed to fighting for the rights of our clients to work without the pain, fear, humiliation, and unequal treatment sexual harassment inevitably brings. We have a history of successful verdicts and settlements and a well-deserved reputation for compassion as well as competence.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has long been a problem in the U.S., but only since the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, under Title VII, has the law recognized this misconduct as an illegal form of sex discrimination. Protection of sexual identification is even more recent. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and on January 20, 2021, President Biden formalized this decision as an Executive Order.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment and feel trapped and overwhelmed, please make an appointment to consult with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys. We are knowledgeable not only about relevant state, federal, and local laws but are also familiar with the defenses of indefensible behavior likely to be presented by opposing counsel. We will work hard and long to protect your rights and win you appropriate compensation.
Defining Sexual Harassment
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when such conduct is made a condition of employment or advancement or interferes with victims’ work, creating “an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.”
This definition has been incorporated into the understanding that there are two basic types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo is a one-sided bargaining offer in which the harasser, explicitly or implicitly, offers employment, a raise, promotion, or other perks in exchange for sex. It can also work in reverse. For example, a supervisor might threaten lowered status, discipline, or termination if the victim doesn’t comply with sexual demands.
A Hostile Work Environment is created when the victim is subjected to:
- Leering, sexual comments, gestures, offensive sounds
- Obscene or suggestive photos, pictures, or cartoons (posted,
shown in texts or emails, left on the victim’s desk, etc.)
- Offensive emails, texts, chats, phone calls or messages
- Repeated dirty jokes
- Questions about the victim’s sexual behavior
- Sexually tinged references to apparel, body parts, movements
- Provocative or humiliating sexual nicknames
- Repeated, unwanted verbal overtures, such as requests for a date
- Unwanted touches, e.g. back rubs, hair caresses, uncomfortable closeness
It should be noted that a single comment or action is rarely classified as “harassment” unless it is especially egregious. If any of the above-mentioned misconduct occurs on a regular basis, however, it should be reported to someone with more authority in the company than the harasser or to the company’s Human Resources department. If the situation is not remedied promptly, it is time for you to seek legal representation.
Remember, you are entitled to work without any type of sexual harassment. “Teasing” or “fooling around” is never acceptable if it makes you uncomfortable, self-conscious, interferes with your ability to do your job, or makes you feel threatened. Our sexual harassment attorneys have the experience and in-depth knowledge of legal nuance to advise you about whether what you are dealing with meets the standard for reportage to the EEOC and a possible lawsuit.
Who can be the victim of sexual harassment?
Anyone can be sexually harassed, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity.
It is also worth noting that sexual harassment in the workplace can be perpetrated by a supervisor, executive, or coworker. If you are sexually harassed by a contractor, client, or vendor, your employer may still have the ultimate responsibility for what goes on in the business. Also, it is possible to be a victim of sexual harassment even if you are not the target. You may well find it unbearable to work in an office or factory full of leers, offensive posted images, or other objectionable behavior.
How We Will Help with Your Complaint
Our sexual harassment attorneys are ready to support you in several important ways. We are fully prepared to:
- Evaluate your experience to see whether you have a viable case of sexual harassment
- Help you gather evidence that will substantiate your claim (e.g. texts, phone messages, photos)
- Assist you in filing a complaint with your employer if you have not already done so
- Assist you in filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”)
- Pursue a lawsuit in state or federal court
- Try to arrange for a workable settlement with opposing attorneys
- Litigate for a just verdict if other methods fail to bring you justice
FMCO attorneys are powerful negotiators and aggressive, experienced litigators. We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to protecting your rights and bringing you the damages you deserve.
Our Sexual Harassment Attorneys Will Fight Tirelessly to Bring You Justice
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, we may be able to get you reinstated in a position you lost due to demotion or wrongful termination, have your employee review updated in a positive manner, and/or have your harasser retrained, disciplined, or fired. In addition, we may be able to win you damages to cover lost wages, bonuses, sick or vacation days. In some cases, you may assert a claim for compensation for emotional anguish/distress.
Contact Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil so We Can Begin Fighting for Your Rights
Now is the time to stop feeling intimidated and start standing up for your right to work without sexual harassment. As experienced and capable litigators, our goal is to hold your harasser and any enablers accountable for their unlawful, unfair, demeaning, and possibly frightening behavior and in doing so to restore your dignity, sense of justice, and self-confidence. Contact us now for a consultation.