Illinois has strict laws in place to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes warehouses, where employees may face harassment from both supervisors and non-supervisors.
Sexual Harassment in Warehouses is Illegal
Sexual harassment in Illinois is defined as any unwanted sexual advances or conduct that creates a hostile work environment. This includes physical touching, verbal or written comments, and gestures. In a warehouse setting, this could include unwanted physical contact, sexual jokes or comments, and unwanted advances from co-workers. Unfortunately, sexual harassment may happen in warehouse jobs.
Both supervisors and non-supervisors can be held liable for sexual harassment in the workplace. Supervisors who engage in or condone sexual harassment can be held liable for their actions, as can the company if it is found to have known about the harassment and failed to take appropriate action.
Bottom line is when a supervisor engages in sexual harassment, the employer is almost always automatically liable. This is usually true even if the supervisor is not your direct supervisor.
How to Prove Sexual Harassment by Warehouse Employees
Sexual harassment from co-workers (who are not supervisors) is a little different. For your employer to be liable for sexual harassment caused by a non-supervisor, you must have told your employer about the harassment and your employer must have not done anything about it.
For example, let’s say you are a package handler in the warehouse and a (non-supervisor) forklift operator continuously makes unwanted sexual advances towards you or constantly tells you unwanted sexual jokes. By itself, your employer cannot be held liable for this action. You never gave them notice of the sexual harassment and therefore they did not have an opportunity to address it.
However, if you told them about it and they did nothing about it, then they can be held liable. This is why it is important for you to notify your employer as the harassment occurs. And you should notify them in writing (so they don’t argue that you never gave them notice of the harassment).
Employers have a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes providing training on sexual harassment to employees and having a clear policy in place for reporting and investigating complaints.
Employees who are facing sexual harassment in a warehouse setting have several options for seeking help. They can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Your first step should be to reach out to a qualified Illinois human rights attorney who specializes in sexual harassment claims. They’d be your best bet to determine whether you have a claim and, if so, work through your options. Please reach out to us – we’d be happy to help.