Business people working in groupSexual harassment is demeaning and unacceptable in any circumstance. In addition to the recourse offered through the Illinois Department of Human Rights, victims in Illinois may be able to receive compensation for their experience under the civil laws of the state. These laws make it illegal for individuals to sexually harass others and places the liability for any damages that may arise due to the misconduct squarely on the offending parties or their employers.

What is sexual harassment?

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to preventing sexual harassment is the widespread misunderstanding of what actually constitutes the act. According to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, individuals may be considered to be the victims of sexual harassment if they experience any of the following in the workplace or in an educational setting:

  • Unwelcome, deliberate or repeated sexual advances
  • Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
  • Seeing or receiving signs, emails, text messages and pictures of a sexual nature
  • Requests for sexual favors

A personal injury lawyer in Illinois knows that when submission to the unwanted behavior is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of employment, victims may have sufficient grounds for a civil sexual harassment lawsuit. The same may also be true if the submission or rejection is used to make important decisions that affect the individual, or if the unwanted attention is designed to interfere with the victim’s ability to function in the workplace or at school.

Laws governing awards

When individuals show that they have been the victims of sexual harassment, they may be able receive compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the attorneys’ fees and costs required to file the suit. However, claims are limited under the Civil Rights Act of 1991. A personal injury lawyer in Illinois should know that the combined compensatory and punitive damages are capped depending on the number of employees the business or institution employs. For employers with 15 to 100 workers, the cap is $50,000; 101 to 200 workers is $100,000; 201 to 500 workers is $200,000; and employers who employ more than 500 workers have a cap of $300,000. Any attorneys’ fees or interest are awarded in addition to the cap.

Awards for damages

Compensatory damages for sexual harassment may include lost wages, loss of employment ability, medical expenses and economic misfortune. If the offending party’s actions are particularly disturbing or excessive, victims may receive compensation as a way of preventing the harasser from ever repeating his or her actions.

A personal injury lawyer in Illinois understands that the emotional and psychological damage that can occur after a victim is sexually harassed is real and those who endure these acts should be duly compensated. Sexual harassment victims should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible for assistance in their matter. Due to limitations of the laws, victims have a specific time frame in which to file suit.

Share Button