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Sexual Harassment

An employee must file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) after experiencing sexual harassment. The charge will be investigated by the IDHR. And if substantiated the employee can have a trial with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“). A sexual harassment claim can also be brought before the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). As a Chicago sexual harassment lawyer, I know how to handle these types of cases.

New Law after Changes.

As of January 1, 2008, individuals can pursue a civil action in the circuit court in the county where the alleged violation occurred, rather than proceeding before the IHRC. Under this new law if the Director of the IDHR files a dismissal order based on a lack of substantial evidence, the individual may either seek review of the dismissal order with the IDHR or file a civil action in circuit court.

After receipt of the IDHR Directors notice of dismissal the IDHR requires the request for review be filed within 30 days .

Once substantial evidence is determined by the IDHR Director you can file a civil action in circuit court or request that the IHRC file a complaint with the IHRC. A court complaint must be filed within 90 days after receipt of the Director’s notice.

IDHR Determinatio

If the IDHR doesn’t issue a determination of whether there is substantial evidence of a civil rights violation within 365 days after the charge is filed, you have 90 days to either file a complaint with the IHRC or commence a civil action in circuit court.

Sexual Harassment claims are complicated and shouldn’t be hastily drafted. Please consult Chicago sexual harasment attorney Peter LaSorsa before filing.

In the last ten years there has been a significant increase in the number of EEOC filings by men. From 1997 until 2007, the number increased from 11.6% to 16% of all EEOC filings–which represents an increase of roughly 38% over the ten year period. Put into number in 1997 there were 1843 filings by men, in 2007 the number increased to 2001. During that same period filings claims decreased from 15,889 to 12,510.

I believe the decrease in total filings is due to more proactive human resource departments and better education of the workforce regarding sexual harassment. I suspect the increase in male complaints is due to the number of women in supervisory and management positions and just an increase in general of women in the workplace. Here is a link to the EEOC chart which tracks such data.

Another interesting fact from the EEOC chart are the numbers of settlements of charges for employees which increased from 6.8% in 1997 to 13.6% in 2007–a 100% increase over the ten year period.

Administrative closures decreased from 39.9% in 1997 to 24.2% in 2007. Companies are more willing to settle a quality charge and the EEOC would have a more difficult time closing a case that has merit.

Lastly, to further support my contention that EEOC filings with merit have increased in the last ten years, the number of EEOC “merit resolutions” have increased from 18.8% in 1997 to 30.3% in 2007. In a merit resolution a favorable outcome for the charging party is implicated (i.e. the employee filing the charge.)

Vicarious Liability may exist regarding sexual harassment.

Vicarious liability harassment takes place when:

  • An employee gives in to unwelcome sexual advances by a supervisor; or
  • Requests for sex or sexual conduct such as physical touching, or sexual innuendo which are made by a supervisor and they constitute either an explicit or implicit term or condition of the employees employment.


  • The supervisors harassment results in a tangible, adverse employment action.

Adverse employment actions come in many forms. Actions include being fired; demoted; lack of promotion; re-assignment; poor performance review; and stripping of job responsibilities.

Under an adverse employment action the mployee must suffer something new in the way of her job. For example an employee were getting a performance review of two out of a 5. Then the supervisor says go out with me and she refuses and the employee gets another two on her review. The burden would be to show the two was a result of not going out with the supervisor.

On the other hand if the employee received a four on the previous review. And then received a two after not going out with the supervisor the burden would shift to the employer.

Statutory Caps Under Title VII

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. there are statutory caps on damages due to sexual harassment. These are imposed for both compensatory and punitive damages. The combined damage caps are based on the number of employees an employer has working for it. The breakdown is as follows:

  • For employers who have 15 to 100 workers: $50,000;
  • For employers who have 101 to 200 workers: $100,000;
  • For employers who have 201 to 500 workers: $200,000;
  • For employers who have in excess of 500 workers: $300,000.

United States Supreme Court cases involving sexual harassment and issues relating to sexual harassment.

A hostile environment created from sexual harassment and is a form of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Court held that same sex sexual harassment can form the basis for sex discrimination. Consequently an employee can file a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

My office is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment related cases from employees. What happens is someone at work complains of sexual harassment and then an investigation takes place. An employee may be interviewed as part of the investigation and confirms the discrimination and sexual harassment. The company then takes a negative job action against that person. For example demotion, fired or has hours cut. This type of discrimination is actionable. And the employee has a retaliation claim based on the initial complaint of sexual harassment and the ensuing investigation.

I offer free consultations and never charge upfront for discussing your claim. Please call Chicago sexual harassment lawyer Peter LaSorsa at 312-505-5038 day or night to discuss your claim.

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