If you work for a company, you know how challenging it can be for everyone to get along. While there is no law that says that co-workers need to be best friends, or even like each other, there are laws intended to prevent the harassment of people in the workplace.
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment at work, your first step may be to file a case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Once your charge has been investigated, you may be able to file suit against your employer for hostile work environment based on harassment.
What constitutes harassment?
Supervisors, employees, contractors, potential hires, and others in the workplace are all possible victims of harassment. Many people think that any inappropriate comment, gesture, or behavior is enough to constitute harassment. However, in a legal context, one isolated incident is rarely enough to meet the standard required to prove harassment.
Under the Illinois Human Rights Act’s definition of harassment, you will likely need to show:
- Offensive behavior that is unwelcome, severe and pervasive
- Behavior that is discriminatory in nature (based on actual or perceived membership in a protected class, such as gender or race)
- Substantial impact on employee’s ability to work and a necessity for continued employment
- Creation of a hostile work environment
If you are being harassed in the workplace, you may be entitled to damages from your employer. Compensation could include back and front pay, lost benefits and emotional distress, or possibly reinstatement.