Sexual harassment can make a workplace unbearable. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, you know just how demeaning this particular type of harassment can be. Sexual harassment can consist of disparaging or offensive remarks about a person’s gender, unwanted sexual advances, and sexually-oriented behavior. Sexual harassment also occurs when a supervisor attempts to exchange sexual favors for employment benefits with a subordinate. One of the most important steps for anyone who has experienced sexual harassment is to keep a detailed record of each instance of harassment. This sexual harassment log will almost certainly be beneficial for recalling the details of the sexual harassment you have suffered for the purposes of filing a Charge or reporting the sexual harassment to the Illinois Department of Human Rights and/or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Proving that Harassment is Severe or Pervasive
There are two types of sexual harassment that are explicitly prohibited under state and federal law: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a worker attempts to trade continued employment, a wage increase, or other work benefits for sexual favors. According to the law, even one instance of quid pro quo harassment is illegal. On the other hand, hostile work environment harassment must be “severe or pervasive” enough that it creates an abusive working environment. A single joke from a colleague about how your outfit flatters your body might be inappropriate but it would not likely be considered illegal sexual harassment. However, if this colleague makes sexual statements like these again and again, the problem may meet the legal criteria for sexual harassment.
What Should I Include in My Log?
In your sexual harassment log, write down every instance that something was said or done to you that made you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. This can include sexual or derogatory jokes, statements, text messages, emails, and behavior. Even if you are not sure whether or not the remark or behavior was technically an instance of sexual harassment, write it down anyway. Note the time and location of each instance. You should also record who witnessed the harassment and what your reaction to the harassment was.
The first step when reporting sexual harassment is to find out your company’s policy regarding harassment and discrimination complaints and follow the established procedure. If no such policy exists, report the harassment to your human resources department or supervisor and always memorize it via e-mail. Your employer is legally obligated to take steps to stop the sexual harassment. If your employer does not take these steps or attempts to retaliate against you for reporting the sexual harassment, speak to a lawyer. It is also a good idea to document all of your efforts relating to reporting sexual harassment as well.
Contact a St. Charles Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Employers have a legal duty to keep their workplaces free from sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination. If your employer refuses to stop employees from sexually harassing you or has threatened to fire, demote, or otherwise “punish” you for reporting the sexual harassment, contact MKFM Law right away. Call our office at 630-665-7300 today and schedule a completely confidential consultation with an experienced Illinois sexual harassment attorney.