Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for reasons that are illegal or against public policy. One such unlawful reason is retaliation, which can occur after an employee reports sexual harassment in the workplace. Employees have legal protections against wrongful termination, and a person who has been fired or experienced other consequences because they reported sexual harassment may take legal action against their former employer to address the ways they have been affected. An attorney who has experience representing clients in cases involving sexual harassment can provide invaluable guidance while ensuring that an employee’s rights will be protected.
The Legal Framework in Illinois
Illinois law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report incidents of sexual harassment. The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) protects people from discrimination and retaliation based on their gender or sex. Therefore, if an employee reports sexual harassment and subsequently experiences adverse employment actions like termination, demotion, or suspension, they may have a strong case for wrongful termination.
In addition to state laws, federal laws also protect employees from retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and it provides protection against discriminatory practices based on various factors, including sex.
Steps to Take Following a Wrongful Termination
To successfully show wrongful termination after reporting sexual harassment in Wheaton or elsewhere in Illinois, an employee can:
Gather evidence: Collect any evidence related to the incident(s) of sexual harassment reported and the subsequent adverse employment action taken by the employer. This may include emails, text messages, witness statements, performance evaluations before and after a complaint was made, and any other relevant documentation that supports a wrongful termination claim.
Maintain documentation: Keep a detailed record of all incidents involving sexual harassment as well as any conversations or encounters related to a complaint with supervisors or HR personnel.
Contact an attorney: A person who believes they have been wrongfully terminated can seek legal counsel from an experienced lawyer who can evaluate the situation, provide advice on the best course of action, and help navigate complex employment laws.
Proving Wrongful Termination
To establish a strong case of wrongful termination after reporting sexual harassment in Illinois courts:
Show protected activity: An employee will want to demonstrate that they engaged in a protected activity by making a good-faith report of sexual harassment. This could include filing a formal complaint with HR or communicating concerns about inappropriate behavior directly with management.
Causal connection: It is important to demonstrate that there was a connection between the protected activity (reporting sexual harassment) and the adverse employment action (termination). In other words, termination should be linked directly or indirectly to a complaint of sexual harassment. Causation may be established by showing that there was a short time frame between making a complaint and being terminated or by providing witness testimony or documentary evidence showing hostility towards employees who have complained in similar situations.
Address claims that termination was legitimate: An employee may need to take steps to disprove the stated reasons an employer has given for the termination. They may provide documentation of positive performance reviews, praise from coworkers or managers, or other information demonstrating that the employer did not have a valid reason to terminate them. By showing that termination did not occur due to other causes, an employee can prove that the true reason they were fired was retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.
Comparable employees: Evidence can be provided showing that other employees with similar records did not face any adverse employment actions. This may support a claim that a person was treated differently because they reported sexual harassment.
Contact Our Wheaton Wrongful Termination Attorneys
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated after reporting sexual harassment in Wheaton or anywhere else in Illinois, it is crucial to seek legal guidance from a knowledgeable attorney. At [[title]], our DuPage County sexual harassment lawyers are committed to protecting employee rights and fighting against workplace discrimination and retaliation. To learn how we can help you take legal action to address wrongful termination, contact us today at [[phone]] and schedule an appointment.