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Confronting A Sexual Harasser

My Chicago offices gets quite a few calls regarding the question of how to confront a sexual harasser while at work.  At first we must distinguish a sexual harasser from just an office pest.  There are some people at work who are just annoying, but their behavior does not constitute sexual harassment under the law.   In order to be sexual harassment, their has to be either an attempt at a sexual relationship or an ongoing series of comments and/or actions that are sexual in nature.  And an attempt to date someone at work after repeated rejections is also a form of sexual harassment in Illinois.  As a Chicago sexual harassment lawyer, I am well-versed in what is needed to prove a case.  I will provide two different approaches for what to do at work if you are subjected to unwanted advances, or requests for sex.

So what happens if you are at work and the boss keeps asking you to go out on a date and it's clear he wants a sexual relationship?  This usually includes comments about your body, how hot you look, how good you smell and those types of comments.  You notice that none of the other employees are getting this type of "special" attention.  Additionally, because the boss is married, you know that going out with him really means having discreet sex with him.  Under the law in Illinois, there is strict liability not only on the boss personally, but also on the company when a supervisor or member of management engages in sexual harassment.   You are not required to report this conduct to human resources, prior to liability attaching.  Of course it is always a good idea to report this conduct, but its not a requirement.  The reason issue is how can you prove his conduct toward you?  This is the most important point.  Without actual proof, you are in a he said, she said situation.   To make your case stronger, you must attempt to get some evidence of this conduct.  First, if he sends you emails or text messages, save them.   Print out any emails and bring them home with you.  Second, if he doesn't send you anything, you could always text him referring his proposition to you and asking him if he wants to discuss it in more detail after work.   Make sure you spell out what he was referring to.  If he responds positively, this is proof that he actually said that to you in private at work.  Of course don't meet him after work, rather contact my office and we can start the process moving.

The second example is when the person doing the harassment is just a co-worker.  In this example, you do need to report the conduct to management before liability attaches to the company.  You would still be able to file a complain and sue the harasser but can't sue the company until you report the conduct and give them a chance to stop it.  If they don't stop it 100%, then liability attaches to the company.  It is always best to get a Chicago sexual harassment lawyer involved early in the process to protect your legal rights at work.