Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment

Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment at work is illegal under Illinois law. It is a violation of the Illinois human rights law. The purpose of the retaliation law is to protect employees who report workplace sexual harassment from retaliation by their employers. In other words, it is meant to encourage employees to report sexual harassment in the workplace. 

What types of things can be considered to be retaliation? Basically, any adverse action that your employer does after you report sexual harassment might be considered to be retaliation. Some examples include demoting you, giving you a worse shift schedule, or even firing you. To prove a case for retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, you must generally prove three elements.

You reported the sexual harassment to your employer. This can be as simple as speaking to your supervisor about it. But you probably want the reporting to be in writing, that way there will be no doubt that you actually told your employer about it. So sending an email or text message is better than verbally telling them. 

You also have to show that you suffered an adverse action after you reported the workplace sexual harassment. This includes your boss reducing your work hours or termination.

Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment is Illegal in Illinois

You must prove that the reason you experienced the adverse action was because of your reporting the sexual harassment in the workplace. The law uses the words “causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.” Think about it this way: Your employer is going to say that the adverse action was not due to the reporting, but rather because of something else like your poor performance. This can be a tough thing to prove. That’s why it’s important to not give your employer a reason to take an adverse action against you. So continue to show up to work on time and perform your job well. Don’t give them an excuse to blame the adverse action on something other than the reporting of the sexual harassment.

Believe it or not you don’t actually have to prove the underlying sexual harassment case to win a retaliation case. Let’s discuss that point further. Say you were the victim of workplace sexual harassment. Then you reported it to your manager. Instead of investigating and addressing the issue, they fired you because you reported the harassment. In this case you can have two claims: one for the actual harassment, and another for them retaliating against you by firing you. 

If the evidence of the actual harassment is weak, then you might lose that claim. However, if you are able to prove that you reported the harassment and that they fired you because of that reporting, then that may be enough to win your retaliation claim.

Victims of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment may be entitled to damages. The damages for retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in Illinois can include lost wages, emotional distress, and attorney’s fees.

There are tons of defenses employers can use against a claim of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. A simple case can become complicated very quickly. That’s why it’s important to contact the civil rights lawyers at JLC to see if you have a case. We will conduct an independent investigation of the facts.

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