On a federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against a worker based on their gender. Encompassed in the Civil Rights Act is sexual harassment in the workplace. But Illinois state law also has special provisions in place to prohibit sexual harassment. The Human Rights Act of Illinois strictly proscribes any employer, regardless of whether they are private or public, from harassing an employee or applicant due to their gender.
Companies or employers with more than 15 employees are not legally allowed to discriminate due to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, or marital status. Both employees and paid or unpaid interns are covered under the Human Rights Act of Illinois.
There are many forms of harassment and conduct that fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment. In general, a person is sexually harassed under two main categories.
Quid pro quo
If an employer requests a sexual favor and implies that an employee will gain some advantage for complying, that would be a case of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Likewise, if an employer makes a request for a sexual act or favor and either implicitly or explicitly makes it known, that not to comply, can lead to negative consequences such as being terminated from their position, demoted, or even reprimanded for poor work-related performance, then that would constitute a quid pro quo sexual harassment situation.
Hostile work atmosphere
If a worker seeks to intimidate or to make someone uncomfortable due to sexual misconduct in a pervasive and systematic manner, then they are creating a hostile workplace atmosphere, which is another form of sexual harassment. Examples of sexual misconduct would be making lewd comments or remarks, sexual innuendos, derogatory statements, showing explicitly sexual material, or intimidating someone because of their gender or sexual orientation.