wheaton sexual harassemnt lawyerNavigating your professional relationships with fellow workers can sometimes be tricky. Many people find themselves in awkward situations with coworkers. However, there are some circumstances in which an awkward situation with a coworker becomes a legal issue. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other legislation prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. In some cases, asking a coworker on a date is a violation of state or federal sexual harassment laws.  

Supervisors Who Ask Out Subordinates May Be Accused of Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo harassment involves a superior using his or her authority to gain some type of sexual or romantic benefit. If your manager or supervisor has asked you out on a date, it could be argued that he or she is attempting to use his or her authority to coerce you into accepting. This is why most workplaces have strict policies prohibiting romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates. A supervisor does not need to explicitly offer work benefits in exchange for a date to be guilty of quid pro quo harassment. Even the implication of better pay, a more desirable work schedule, or other job-related benefits may constitute quid pro quo harassment. 

Consistently Asking Out a Coworker May Create a Hostile Work Environment

The situation is slightly different when a coworker asks out a peer. If a colleague asks you out once, you turn him or her down, and nothing more becomes of the situation, this is most likely not considered sexual harassment. However, if a coworker refuses to take “no” for an answer, constantly asks you out, or consistently makes offensive comments to you, this may be considered harassment.

Per federal law, hostile work environment harassment occurs when derogatory or sexual comments or behavior are so severe or pervasive that they interfere with the employee’s ability to do his or her job. In some cases, constantly asking a coworker on a date may fall into this category.

What Should I Do Next?

Whether you believe that you have been the victim of sexual harassment or are simply tired of a colleague asking you out, the most important thing to do is report the offensive behavior. Follow your company’s policy for reporting the harassment to the appropriate individual. If the person who is harassing you is the person you are supposed to report harassment to, you may need to go above that person’s head to the next individual in the chain of command. If nothing is done to address the problem and prevent further harassment, you may need to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Contact a Wheaton Sexual Harassment Lawyer for Help

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work, a DuPage County sexual harassment attorney from MKFM Law can help. Call us at 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today.