While Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or nationality; unfortunately, illegal discrimination in the workplace still occurs. A prominent example of such discrimination can be found in sexual harassment—destructive conduct that remains all too common in the American workplace.

Identifying Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes the use of inappropriate language as well as behavior that interferes with an individual’s ability to do his or her job. Victims of sexual harassment may experience unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors, or unwanted physical touching. Both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual harassment as well as victims of such behavior.

There are two primary types of sexual harassment in the workplace: Quid pro quo harassment and creating a hostile work environment:

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

The term “quid pro quo” is Latin for “something for something,” or “one thing in return for another.” Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a manager, supervisor, or person of authority harasses a subordinate with the understanding that the subordinate must tolerate the harassment in order to keep his or her job or to gain advancement. Some examples of quid pro quo harassment include:

  • An employer making promotions, work advancements, and/or salary increases contingent on receiving sexual favors;
  • An employer threatening to demote or even fire an employee who will not participate in the inappropriate sexual activity;
  • An employer assigning desirable work assignments to those who will tolerate his or her sexual conduct or assigning undesirable assignments to those who do not accept the sexual conduct; and
  • An employer giving favorable performance reviews or evaluation scores to those who cooperate with the employer’s sexual demands.

Creating a Hostile Work Environment

Hostile work environment harassment occurs when the behavior of an individual or group of individuals generates an intimidating, antagonistic, or abusive workplace atmosphere. Common hostile environment harassment examples include:

  • Overt or subtle discrimination against a person because of his or her gender;
  • Threatening, offensive, or intimidating behavior which is severe enough to disrupt the employee’s work or productivity;
  • Overt sexual remarks or actions which interfere with an employee’s ability to do their work; and
  • Inappropriate physical touching.

Get Help With Your Case

Everyone deserves to feel safe at their workplace. Sexual harassment is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. If you have been the victim of any type of workplace sexual harassment, an experienced Illinois sexual harassment attorney can help you explore your available options. Call 630-665-7300 to speak with a compassionate member of the team at MKFM Law today.