Chicago Sexual Harassment & Discrimination Lawyer
Fighting for Victims of Discrimination, Sexual Harassment & Employer Retaliation
Workers in America have the right to be free from discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. Unfortunately, prejudice and hostility persist in our country, and powerful entities often do all they can to evade accountability.
For victims who’ve suffered harm as the result of wrongful conduct in the workplace, this can cause tremendous pain and suffering, as well as tangible losses.
If you have been a victim of discrimination, sexual harassment, or other unlawful conduct, Power Rogers, LLP is available to help. Led by some of the nation’s leading plaintiffs’ trial attorneys, our firm can explore your options for pursuing legal action over civil rights violations involving employment.
Why Choose Power Rogers?
- Over $4 Billion in Compensation Recovered
- $900 Million More in Recoveries Than our Closest Competitor Since 2000
- Ranked Among U.S. News & World Report’s Tier 1 “Best Law Firms”
- Chicago Lawyer’s “No. 1 Plaintiffs’ Law Firm” in Most Dollars Earned 11 Years in a Row
Power Rogers, LLP has amassed a proven success record fighting for the injured and the wronged, and is equipped with the experience and resources to take on even the most powerful opponents. If you wish to discuss a potential case, contact us to request a FREE consultation.
What Is Employment Discrimination?
Employment discrimination is treating a person differently in the workplace on the basis of certain legally protected characteristics. Both state and federal law prohibit discrimination in employment, but the legally protected classes they cover can differ. For example:
- The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation);
- The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, genetic information, ancestry, citizenship status, criminal history, military status or unfavorable discharge, victims of domestic violence, marital status, age (40 or older), physical or mental disability (or perceived disability), sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), and sexual orientation (including gender identity).
- Other federal laws prohibit discrimination based on age (Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967), pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (Pregnancy Discrimination Act), disability (Americans with Disabilities Act), and genetic information (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008).
The Illinois Human Rights Act offers protections to a broad group of protected classes, as well as employees at small companies (under 15 or 20 employees) who may not be covered under federal laws. It also provides broader protections for victims of employment discrimination based on disability than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires an employee to have a substantial limitation of a major life activity in order to be considered disabled. Under Illinois law, disability is any “determinable mental or physical characteristic of a person.”
Both state and federal laws cover discrimination in many forms, including discriminatory conduct that occurs:
- Before employment (during the hiring phase);
- During employment, (i.e. discriminatory practices involving compensation, promotions / demotions, or other conditions of employment);
- As the result of taking protected leave under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) or comparable state law;
- During discharge or termination of employment.
Illinois law also prohibits aiding and abetting discrimination. This means victims may be able to pursue legal action against an individual or entity who contributed to or caused the discrimination, even if they are not their employer or someone their company employs.
Filing a Discrimination Claim in Illinois
Discrimination claims can be filed with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both agencies have the ability work together in evaluating claims and confirming whether they have merit. In some cities or counties, including Chicago, agencies such as the “Human Rights Commission,” “Civil Rights Commission,” or “Human Relations Commission” may process claims under local ordinances.
Whether you have grounds to pursue a discrimination claim will depend on the facts of your case, including whether claims can be resolved through administrative means or mediation, or require litigation. In such situations, victims may be issued a “Notice of Right to Sue” from the agency with which they filed a claim.
Our legal team at Power Rogers, LLP can help clients determine the most appropriate course of action in their case, as well as any deadlines (called the “statute of limitations”) that may apply.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Like discrimination, sexual harassment can take many forms. It may involve unwanted sexual advances, verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature (or about a person’s sex), or the exchange of sexual acts in return for promotion or advancement in the workplace, or as a condition of employment.
Victims and harassers may be any gender, and harassers may be a victim’s co-worker, boss, direct supervisor, supervisor in another department, or someone who is not an employee of the victim’s employer, such as a customer or a client.
When sexual harassment involves employment, it may be a violation of the federal Civil Rights Act (Title VII), state law, or local law, such as the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance - particularly when the harassment:
- Becomes so severe or frequent that it creates a hostile work environment or interferes with an employee’s work performance; or
- Results in an adverse employment decision (i.e. termination or demotion).
- Explicitly or implicitly makes submission to conduct of a sexual nature a term or condition of employment.
Victims of sexual harassment can file federal claims with the EEOC, either as claims of quid pro quo harassment (when employees suffer tangible employment consequences from refusing to submit to a supervisor’s sexual advances or demands), or hostile work environment (when employees claim a co-worker’s conduct was pervasive or severe to create an offensive environment).
Your employer’s liability will depend on various factors, including what the harassment involved, and who was responsible for the conduct. Under the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, for example, employers can be held responsible for the conduct of supervisors and other agents, and for the conduct of non-supervisory or non-managerial personnel if they were aware of the harassment, but failed to take reasonable measures to address it. Harassers can also be held individually liable for their conduct.
Victims who prevail in sexual harassment lawsuits may recover compensation for:
- Economic losses incurred as a result of harassment (i.e. lost income);
- Costs of medical or psychological treatment;
- Emotional pain and suffering; and
- Other economic or non-economic damages.
Sexual harassment cases can make for complex and emotionally turbulent litigation. Plaintiffs will also need sufficient documentation and evidence to prove their claims, especially in matters where victims allege a hostile work environment due to frequent harassment. Power Rogers, LLP can help victims evaluate the merits of their case, and structure the necessary evidence and arguments to support their claim.
State and federal laws protect victims who fear punishment from an employer when stepping forward to allege wrongdoing. This is known as employer retaliation, and it can include any adverse action against an employee who engages in protected actions, such as:
- Filing a complaint over workplace discrimination or harassment;
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim;
- Discussing concerns or complaints within your company;
- Reporting violations to a regulatory entity (i.e. OSHA, EPA, FDA, etc.);
- Reporting fraud or abuse;
- Assisting in a government investigation.
Anti-retaliation laws provide both protections to employees who step forward, and remedies to those who have already been retaliated against. This includes wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, retaliatory demotion, increased scrutiny or expectations, threats, or other adverse actions that deter an employee from reporting misconduct, participating in investigations, or engaging in protected activities.
Call For a FREE Consultation: (312) 313-0202
Power Rogers, LLP has extensive experience helping clients protect their rights in complex and high-stakes claims, including those involving civil rights violations and wrongdoing by powerful corporations and the government.
If you have questions about workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, or employer retaliation, our firm is available to review your case during a FREE and confidential consultation. Contact us to speak with a lawyer.