Employee Rights At Work

As an employee in Illinois you have a right to be free from sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.  Sexual harassment is not just about sex but it is also about power and intimidation.  If the boss is the person doing the sexual harassment under the law in Illinois the company is held to be strictly liable.  That means the company is responsible for any damage that occurs.  This is a right that does not have to be contained in an employee handbook and the company can't make you waive that right.  The same is true for other policies the company may have.  Your rights are not limited to what the company wants you to be limited by.  You have guaranteed rights in Illinois while you are at work.

Sexual harassment isn't just limited to comments or actions directed at you.  If another employee is having sex with the boss, that could end up affecting you because you aren't having sex with the boss and therefore may not get the same favoritism and it could be considered sexual harassment under the law.  Attorneys who handle these sorts of cases would be able to go over the facts of your situation and determine the best course of action.  The most important thing for you to do is something.  Doing nothing is never a good idea and usually will make the situation worse not better.

Also you should remember that Human Resources is not your friend.  Their job is to protect the company and the assets of the company.  They are not there to protect your legal rights.  Now some human resource departments do fair and impartial investigations but many do not.  And there is no one overseeing them to make sure they are.  You can't just assume they will investigate the matter and protect your best interests.  Also, they usually will have access to an attorney or legal staff--another good reason you should.

You also have a right to speak with an attorney and have some representation during an investigation.  Don't let human resources bully you into thinking you don't.  As I stated, they will have legal help and you should too.  The only reason for not allowing you to have the help of an attorney is the company is trying to put one over on you during the investigation.

If you happen to get laid off or fired from the company or they suspend you without pay, you should immediately file with the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") as you are technically unemployed at that point.  Let the IDES make the determination from that point forward as to whether or not you can collect unemployment.  But file as soon as you can to protect yourself.  And remember, the company can't stop you from filing with the IDES.

Another thing you can do is get a complete copy of your employment file from the company.  By law you can get this anytime you want.  They company cannot refuse to give it to you.  It is a good idea to get it to ensure nothing bad is being put in your file. 

These are just some of the rights you have as an employee and some of the things you can do to help ensure your rights are protected at work.

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