In Illinois if a person believes they have been subjected to sexual harassment then can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The following case illustrates one reason why I prefer to file a case with the IDHR as opposed to the EEOC. A federal judge ordered the EEOC to pay $4.56 million in attorneys' fees and expenses to a CRST after dismissing the EEOCs sexual harassment lawsuit. The EEOC filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against CRST on behalf of 270 female drivers. The drivers claim that CRST created a hostile work environment.
The problem for the EEOC was that a Judge ruled against the EEOC and in favor of CRST in a motion for summary judgment thereby dismissing the sexual harassment lawsuit. In federal court, a Judge can award attorney fees to a defendant who wins their motion for summary judgement thereby increasing the risk of litigation for a plaintiff. Another words, if you file a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court and it is dismissed prior to a jury trial, a Judge could make you pay the attorney fees of the defendant, which in this case were a little more than $4.5 million.
Victims of sexual harassment should consider this ruling before deciding to undertake a lawsuit in federal court because of the potential for paying the attorney fees of the defendant. In Chicago average attorney fees for employment lawyers defending companies can range from $250-$850 per hour.
"The EEOC believes the court's decisions in the case were wrongfully decided and the agency will be appealing," said EEOC Deputy General Counsel James Lee.