Here are some tips for you if as an employee you find yourself in a situation in which you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is an ongoing problem in Chicago and my office helps many employees get compensated for their damage. There are many forms of damages including lost wages, future lost wages, money for emotional distress and anxiety, attorney fees, medical reimbursement and more. The medical reimbursement can include counselors, psychiatrists, and other professionals who can be brought in to make sure the employee is getting the proper care and treatment. It is very important to ask for the proper damage during the initial demand letter to the company.
Another tip for an employee is to save all communications that the employee receives that can help prove the sexual harassment. This can include emails, text messages, voice messages, hand written notes and any other form of communications such as a Facebook posting or Twitter message. As social media gets more widespread among employees, many times Twitter messages can be utilized to show discrimination in the workplace. A savvy employment lawyer can search and find this type of evidence and help win your case. And this type of evidence can make or break your case. So tens of thousands of dollars can be at stake. This is why it is very important to research a good solid experienced Chicago sexual harassment lawyer to help pursue your claim and give you advice on how best to procede.
Another great tip is to keep a journal. Now the journal isn't first hand evidence per se, but rather a current account of what happened to you. Make sure you include the names of witnesses, the times and dates things took place and who else was either in the room or around when the comments or harassment occurred. This can be used to refresh the memory of witnesses later on. Another question that I get asked a great deal about is do I have to report the conduct to the company before I file a complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")? The answer is it depends. In order for liability to attach in Illinois, you must report the conduct to the company unless the person doing the harassment is a member of management. If the person is a member of management liability attached automatically.
Another great tip for employees is to keep your mouth shut. The old saying that loose lips sink ships is a great slogan and it applies here. There is no reason to discuss what is occurring with other employees. For one thing, the other employee may sabotage your case for whatever reason. And if the company ends up settling the case, they will want a confidentiality agreement in place as part of the settlement. If you have told the world about what is taking place that may reduce the amount of money the company is willing to pay you in exchange for settling the case. So just discuss with immediate family members and your lawyer. This is the best approach to have when faced with a hostile work environment in Chicago.
Remember if you are in Chicago and the victim of sexual harassment, seek out an experienced attorney and protect your employment rights. The harassment will not go away by itself and no one will look out for you if you don't look out for yourself. Be proactive and make the call.