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Workplace Harassment Associated with a Former Romantic Partner Workplace relationships are quite common. As a practical matter, work is where spend half your day. It’s where you meet people. One writer, Calvin Trillin, even postulated that in any large office, the number of workplace relationships is a constant – that when one relationship ends another is starting somewhere else in the same office.

These relationships have a dark side though. When the relationship ends, you still need to work with the other person. While many adults are mature about splitting up, some may do their best to make your life uncomfortable. You always have the right to hold someone liable for threatening you, harassing you, or for sending inappropriate pictures of you. But do you have the right to file a claim for harassment against the employer?

What is workplace harassment in Chicago?

All Illinois employers are required by law to provide yearly training for preventing workplace sexual harassment. The laws also extend workplace and discrimination rights to nonemployees and “impose new restrictions on contracts and require certain employers to file annual reports.”

As of January 1, 2020, employers:

  • Must provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to each of their employees
  • Are forbidden “from engaging in or allowing workplace harassment based on any protected trait”
  • Must provide additional training and establish written sexual harassment polices – if the employer is a restaurant or hotel
  • Prohibited from requiring, in the employment contract, the certain claims be resolved through arbitration and that certain issues must be kept confidential

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) must produce a model sexual harassment prevention training program which all employees and the public can use. Employers in Illinois must either use this program or their own program, provided their own program meets the model program’s minimum standards. The training program should include:

  • An explanation of what constitutes sexual harassment in Illinois
  • Examples of illegal sexual harassment
  • A summary of the relevant federal and state rules and remedies
  • A summary of the employer’s duties to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment in the workplace

Effective January 1, 2020, harassment and sexual harassment are considered different types of unlawful employment practices.

Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors and any conduct of a sexual nature that “Substantially interferes with an individual’s work performance [and/or] creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.”

If the harassment or sexual harassment is committed by an employee who is not managerial or not supervisory, then the employer can only be held liable if the employer became aware of the improper conduct and failed to take corrective steps.

When is an employer liable if a former partner is harassing you?

Harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace are considered civil rights violations. If an employer is liable for harassment or sexual harassment, damages can include:

  • Any lost income or lost benefits
  • Statutory damages
  • Damages for emotional suffering
  • Legal fees

What you should do if your ex-partner is harassing you at work?

The Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Hotline recommends that you:

  • Tell the harasser that you object
  • Document what happened
  • Identify witnesses – peers you can trust
  • Notify management
  • Call the police if the harassment is criminal in nature
  • Report the incident to government authorities

We also recommend that you speak with an experienced Chicago sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible.

At Gainsberg Law P.C., we handle employment discrimination and harassment claims in state and federal courts and before governmental agencies. To speak with a skilled Chicago harassment attorney, call us at 312.600.9585 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.