Illinois Workplace Sexual Harassment

If you experienced workplace sexual harassment in Illinois, you may be eligible to file a claim. In Illinois, if a co-worker refuses to accept an offer of a date but is still persuaded to agree this could be considered one example of workplace sexual harassment or creating a hostile or offensive work place.

Sexual harassment of this type is illegal in Illinois. In this situation the worker has the right to file a complaint and request compensation.

What Illinois and Federal Laws Protect Against Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace in Illinois violates a federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII affects employers with 15 or more employees.

Also, under the Illinois Human Rights Act (ILHRA), all Illinois workers have the right to work in an environment which is free from sexual harassment. In Illinois, it is a civil rights violation under the Human Rights Act for an employer to not include in a posting on the work premises, and in the employee handbook, information that states the following:

  • an employee should be free from sexual harassment in the Illinois workplace;
  • an employee has the right to file a charge for sexual harassment if such an action has taken place.

What is Considered Sexual Harassment?

This depends on the situation and the people involved. Sexual harassment could include uninvited sexual advances or demands for sexual favors. 

Direct or indirect threats or bribes in return for sexual activity could also be sexual harassment. In a few contexts the use of sexual innuendos and comments and even sexually suggestive jokes may be considered sexual harassment.

Uninvited touching or brushing up against someone, or showing explicit material could also be sexual harassment. Finally, attempting a sexual assault or completing it could be sexual harassment.

How is Sexual Harassment Covered By Law in Illinois?

Typically, employers have to employ a minimum of 15 workers in order to be subject to both Illinois and federal sexual harassment laws. However, since July 1, 2020, the Illinois Human Rights Act defines an employer as anyone having one or more employees and all employers are required to offer training in sexual harassment. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) guidelines state that all employees must be trained, whether the job is part-time, intern, or temporary. The key requirements of the training should include the following:

  • an explanation of what is considered sexual harassment which matches the IHRA sexual harassment definition;
  • a summary of responsibilities of employers in the preventing, investigating, and the correcting of instances of Illinois Workplace Sexual Harassment.

Additional training is required for restaurant and bar employers such as showing videos of sexual harassment activities to employees and explaining manager liability and responsibility as described under the law. The training should be offered in both English and Spanish.

Where Should a Workplace Sexual Harassment Claim be Filed in Illinois

If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in an Illinois workplace, you can file a claim with the EEOC or with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) against the individual harasser as well as the employer or educational institution (if applicable).  Both parties could be found liable. Offices for the IDHR are found in Chicago and Springfield.

How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Harassment Claim in Illinois?

In Illinois, a discrimination claim can be filed either with the state administrative agency, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Filing a claim with both agencies is not necessary, as long as you state to one of the agencies that you want it to "cross-file" the claim with the other agency.

There are strict time limits for filing an Illinois sexual harassment claim. In order for these agencies to act on your behalf, you must file with the IDHR (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days of the sexual harassment taking place or the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days.

Getting Help Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim in Illinois

It is never easy to win a sexual harassment claim unless you ask an attorney to work on your behalf to win a favorable settlement for your Illinois workplace sexual harassment claim. An experienced lawyer will assess the evidence you provide which proves sexual harassment in an Illinois workplace has taken place.

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