Harassment Lawyer In Chicago

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Workplace harassment formUnder Illinois law, harassment occurs when someone knowingly causes emotional distress to someone else. The harasser’s conduct is not necessary to accomplish a reasonable purpose. Instead, their sole intent is to behave in a way they know will upset their victim.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what harassment is, the different types of harassment, and the legal remedies you might pursue if you’ve suffered because of someone else’s harassing behavior. If you need help with pursuing a harassment case, our attorneys can help. Call Wallace Miller today at (312) 261-6193 for your no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Table Of Contents

    Methods of Harassment

    Harassment in-person is the most obvious type of harassment, in which someone’s words or actions in your presence are harassing. The harasser may also use the phone or an electronic means of communication to harass the victim.

    Types of Harassment

    Many different types of harassment fall under this umbrella term. Some of the most common types include:

    Sexual Harassment

    Sexual harassment can manifest in many different ways, but Illinois recognizes two specific types of sexual harassment. In the first type, a manager, boss, or someone else with authority seeks unwanted sexual contact or a relationship in exchange for a tangible benefit like a pay raise or a promotion. This type could also manifest as a promise not to write up, fire, or otherwise penalize the employee in exchange for a sexual favor. Any number of adverse employment actions could be related to harassment.

    In the second type, a perpetrator creates a hostile work environment by displaying explicit or inappropriate pictures, telling or allowing others to tell sexual jokes, or making sexual comments to other employees.

    Racial Harassment

    The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits anyone from discrimination based on religion, color, or race, among other protected statuses such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. This statute applies to anyone who’s experienced harassment or discrimination in the course of their employment while seeking financial credit, public accommodations, or housing. In Illinois, this act is enforced by the Illinois Department of Human Rights. If you have experienced a violation of your rights, a harassment lawyer could use the IHRA to argue your case in court. As with sexual harassment, either direct harassment or a hostile work environment can be harassing behavior.

    Age Harassment

    Thanks to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, age is a protected class that’s covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This act protects older workers from prejudiced and unfair behavior in the workplace. Some common examples of age harassment and discrimination include:

    • Refusing to give an older employee a promotion or only hiring people of a certain age
    • Withholding benefits from older employees that they give to younger employees
    • Keeping older employees from participating in workplace projects
    • Harassing an older employee with crude comments or jokes related to their age
    • Either trying to force an older employee to retire or firing an older employee who doesn’t retire by a specified date

    Disability Harassment

    The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protects both job applicants and employees from discrimination or harassment based on an existing disability. According to this act, s disabled person is someone who:

    • Has some type of impairment that limits certain life activities
    • Has a history of persistent impairment
    • Has been regarded as having either a physical or mental impairment

    Protected individuals who are qualified for the job in question and who can demonstrate that they could perform their job duties with or without reasonable accommodation are entitled to an environment that is free from discrimination. The ADA applies to both private and public employers, labor unions, job agencies, and any employer with 15 or more employees.

    Elements of an Intentional Tort Lawsuit for Harassment

    To succeed in an intentional tort lawsuit for harassment, your attorney will need to demonstrate and prove:

    • Intent – You must be able to demonstrate that the defendant acted with intent to harass or discriminate against you.
    • Unlawful Conduct – Their behavior must qualify as unlawful conduct under the ADA, IHRA, or any other pertinent statute.
    • Causation – You must be able to demonstrate that the defendant’s behavior directly caused you some type of harm.
    • Damages – Your attorney will quantify specific damages you’ve suffered as a result of this behavior, such as loss of employment or housing instability.

    Legal Remedies for Harassment

     If you win a harassment lawsuit against your employer or another entity that’s discriminated against you, the court could take any number of actions to provide you with legal relief. This will typically take the form of injunctive relief and/or monetary damages, and in certain circumstances, the state might also separately pursue criminal prosecution.


    Typical injunctive relief will come in the form of the court requiring the employer to implement a new policy of investigating complaints or stipulating that they institute harassment training. Many suits will result in injunctive relief along with monetary damages for the plaintiff.

    Monetary Damages

    After winning your lawsuit, you may be entitled to one or both types of monetary damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

    • Compensatory Damages – This could include back pay from times you were out of work due to harassment, pay you would’ve received if fairly given a raise or promotion, or out-of-pocket expenses for things like:
      • Therapy
      • Searching for a new job
      • Attorney fees
      • Court costs
      • Damages for your pain and suffering
    • Punitive Damages – In rare cases, the court may award you with punitive damages, which are meant to punish especially serious and harmful behavior on the part of your harasser. Punitive damages are used to deter others from engaging in that type of behavior in the future.

    Criminal Prosecution

    Beyond the civil suit that you’ve filed, the state may separately pursue a criminal case against the perpetrator, especially in cases of severe harassment or abuse. For example, an employer might harass an employee due to their age, for which they might face civil charges. If they physically assault the employee, they may face criminal charges.

    Employer Liability for Harassment

    Under the Civil Rights Act, ADEA, and ADA, all employers are automatically liable for harassment caused by a manager or supervisor which ends in the termination of an employee, failure to hire or promote, or withholding of wages. This also applies in cases where the manager or supervisor created a hostile work environment unless the employer can prove one of two things:

    1. The employer took action to prevent and address the behavior in question.
    2. The employee didn’t take advantage of reasonable attempts made by the employer to either prevent or correct the harassment.

    Along with liability for harassment from managers and supervisors, employers are also liable for harassment from other employees or contractors. This applies in cases where the employer knows or should have known about the harassing behavior and did not take action to either prevent or correct that behavior.

    Lastly, while employers might not be able to control the behavior of third-party vendors, customers, or guests, they are still required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to ensure that their employees work in an environment that’s free of harassment or discrimination.

    An employer may not be directly liable for a third party’s harassment or discrimination, but they are required to prevent and correct that behavior. This could include things like terminating their professional relationship with the offending vendor and removing abusive customers, among other corrective actions.

    As part of the corrective actions for third-party harassment, an employer should promptly investigate the claims and take action. Employers should also institute clear policies that:

    • Describe and prohibit harassment from customers
    • Prevent offending customers from entering the property
    • Provide for automatic reporting to prevent future harassment
    • Give employees the ability to work in an area away from customers who might harass them
    • Provide for the prompt filing of protective orders as well as the involvement of law enforcement

    A Harassment Lawyer Can Help

    Even with the clear and robust protections given to employees under the Civil Rights Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and others, harassment in the workplace remains a serious problem. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission received close to 100,000 reports of workplace harassment in a single year.

    A harassment lawyer can help you pursue a legal remedy for the harassment you’ve faced by seeking injunctive relief as well as monetary damages. No employee should have to be subjected to harassment or a toxic work environment. A harassment lawyer helps protect the rights of those who have suffered harm because of someone else’s discriminatory or harassing actions.

    Wallace Miller Is Here to Protect Your Rights

    You don’t have to be alone through this difficult process. Here at Wallace Miller, our harassment attorneys have years of experience handling workplace discrimination and harassment cases, and we’ve been able to secure favorable outcomes for a large number of clients over the years.

    Our process begins with a free consultation where a member of our team will listen to your story and give you an idea of what you might expect from the legal process as well as possible routes to recovering compensation for you. Get started today by calling us at (312) 261-6193.

    Tell Us Your Story