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How Do I File a Sexual Harassment Complaint in Chicago?

— February 15, 2022

During the investigation, you will be invited to a fact-finding conference during which you can present your side of the facts.

If you work in a public or private company in Chicago you have the right to be free from any type of sexual harassment, which is considered a form of sex-based discrimination and is strictly prohibited under both state and federal laws. Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be a big problem in Chicago, no matter what the law says, and the only thing you can do is stand up for your rights. You don’t have to do this alone. Look up the best Chicago sexual harassment lawyers and let them guide you through the complex legal process and help you build a strong case against your harassers.

How do I report sexual harassment in Chicago?

Most employers in Chicago have an anti-discrimination policy in place explaining what sort of behavior is not acceptable in the workplace and describing the internal complaint mechanism. In most case, if you have a sexual harassment complaint you are expected to talk to your employer or someone in the HR department. This may or may not work. 

Some employers not only condone but actively encourage sexual harassment in the workplace. If it’s the boss who’s making sexist jokes and comments about your looks, complaining to them is pretty much pointless. Or, if you report another employee who’s harassing you, your employer might retaliate against you, although this is also prohibited in Illinois.

If that is the case for you, you should seek advice from experienced Illinois sexual harassment layers and file a formal complaint.

How can the Illinois Department of Human Rights help?

You have the right to file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) with 300 days of the offensive incident. If your lawyers believe it would be better to take matters to federal level you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC).

Either agency will start investigating your complaint and they will notify your employer of the charges against them. Your employer has 60 days to respond.

Man and woman in meeting; image by Headway, via
Image by Headway, via

It is important to have knowledgeable sexual harassment lawyers to gather enough evidence to support your claims. You can present your own account of the facts and it would be of great help if you kept a diary detailing all the incidents. You can submit pictures of sexually offensive displays around the office or copies of sexually-explicit messages that were sent to you.

During the investigation, you will be invited to a fact-finding conference during which you can present your side of the facts. Your employer will present their own version of the facts, so it is of vital importance to have seasoned lawyers on your side.

Both the EEOC and the IDHR can offer to negotiate a settlement at this stage. If your employer refuses negotiations, you may be issued a Notice to Sue. This allows you to file a lawsuit in a state court under the Illinois Human Rights Act or at federal level under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

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