Posted On: June 15, 2013

Text Messages and Sexual Harassment In Chicago

Probably the single biggest category of evidence in sexual harassment cases in Chicago are text messages. For some unknown reason many supervisors believe they can send inappropriate text messages to employees and not face any consequences. And of course the best thing about text messages is the trail of evidence that is left behind. Not only do you have the message itself, but you also have the date and time it was sent, the phone it was sent from and the phone it was sent to. You really can't ask for a better trail of evidence. However, there are some issues than can come up with text messages and I will try to address them.

First, what happens if the employee deletes them off her phone? Many times at the time the messages are sent the employee is not thinking there will be a lawsuit and may not think to save them. She will delete the messages and just hope the boss stops harassing her and stops sending messages in the future. But then after she realizes he is not stopping she has deleted the best text messages--what if anything can she do? Well there is special software that will allow for the retrieval of the deleted text messages. How far back the deleted messages can be retrieved depends on the phone, the memory and how many other text messages were sent and received. Also even if the message is deleted, sometimes it is enough to show the phone log showing all of the dates and times the text messages were sent as circumstantial evidence that the boss is acting in an inappropriate way.

Second, a common defense by the company is consent. So it is important that the text messages don't hurt your case as much as they help it. You don't want the messages to show that you are doing just as much sexual talk or flirting right back. In order to claim you are the victim of sexual harassment in Chicago, you need to show the advances are unwanted and you are rejecting them. So obviously if you are partaking in the conversations to the degree that a reasonable person would think you are enjoying them or encouraging them, then there is no sexual harassment by definition. An experienced Chicago sexual harassment lawyer can discuss the details of your case and review your specific evidence.

Lastly, many times the text messages are enough to settle the case before actually filing one. My Chicago office routinely sends out demand letters with copies of some of the text messages to show the company what we have for evidence and to attempt to settle the case. This works out to the benefit of both parties. It is good for the employee because she gets money in her pocket today and no risk of losing. And the company gets to put the entire matter behind them, doesn't have future legal fees and doesn't have negative publicity and the chance at losing a big amount in court.