Proving Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor in Illinois

Nobody should have to face sexual harassment by their supervisor. It can have a significant impact on an employee’s work and personal life. After all, your supervisor is the one who assigns you work, reviews your work, and considers your promotion potential, among other things. That’s why sexual harassment by a supervisor is particularly egregious. To prove a case of sexual harassment by a supervisor in Illinois there are certain elements that must be present.

Elements to Prove Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor

First, you must be proven that the supervisor’s conduct was unwanted. This means that you did not willingly participate in or consent to the harassing behavior. What if you were previously in a romantic relationship with your supervisor? This can be relevant, but if the relationship ended (and your supervisor knows this), then you are treated like any other employee. Additionally, the conduct must be sexual in nature, such as physical touching, verbal or written comments, or gestures.

Second, it must be shown that the conduct created a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment when the employee is made to feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or degraded due to the supervisor’s harassing behavior.

Multiple Acts of Harassment Usually Needed

One act of harassment is usually not enough to show a hostile work environment. There needs to be several cases. However, if the harassment is extreme enough (such as an inappropriate touching) then one act of harassment can be enough. Another way to satisfy this element is to show a quid pro quo type of harassment. All that means is that your supervisor promised you something (better work schedule, more pay, a promotion) in exchange for a sexual favor. 

You Don’t Need to Give Employer Notice

But does the employer need to have notice of the sexual harassment? This is where Illinois law is different. If the harasser is a supervisor, then you do not need to notify your employer (but it’s still a good idea to do so).

In other words, you can prove a case of sexual harassment against a supervisor without showing that you gave your employer notice. Another important thing to note is that the supervisor doesn’t even need to be your supervisor. They can be a supervisor in a completely different section of the company.

If an employee can prove these elements, they may be able to file a complaint against their employer for sexual harassment. Overall, sexual harassment by a supervisor is a serious issue that can have a significant impact on an employee’s career and well-being.

There’s a lot of things to consider when you’re a victim of sexual harassment by a supervisor. Don’t go at it alone. Reach out to us and we’ll let you know if you have a claim and the best way to go about getting justice.

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