Sexual harassment is rampant within a growing number of industries, creating a hostile work environment for men, and especially women employees. With the outing of well-known harassers like film mogul Harvey Weinstein and political commentator Bill O'Reilly, national conversations centered around sexual harassment culture and its embedment in the workforce has shed light on the magnitude of this issue. Talk of sexual harassment on a worldwide scale inspired the “me too” movement, which consisted of victims of sexual harassment bravely hashtagging #metoo on social media as a means of spreading awareness. Nearly 1.7 million tweets containing the hashtag were posted - a testament to how commonplace sexual harassment in and out of the workplace has become.
According to recent news articles, Illinois politics is an industry that has been accused of perpetuating a culture of unbridled sexual harassment. An open letter has circulated around the state Capitol with signatures from more than 160 women and men addressing that the problem has gotten out of hand, and that steps should be taken to deter this issue. The letter details the experiences of women who are employed as candidates, consultants, lobbyists, fundraisers, and legislators who have been subject to harassment amid political work in Illinois.
A number of real scenarios (no specific names were mentioned) were recounted in the letter, painting the picture of how sexual harassment is depicted in Illinois politics: “It looks like the candidate who slides his hands across the body of his fundraising consultant during call time. Who calls and texts her in the middle of the night, and refuses to pay her what she is owed because his advances are rebuked.” And so on.
The letter also demands political employees to check their peers rather than turning a blind eye to harassment, as this behavior thrives when bystanders are silent.
“This election cycle, we need to commit to challenging every elected official, every candidate, and every participant in our democratic process who is culpable,” it reads. “Illinois deserves responsible stewards of power.”
In response to the letter, House Speaker Michael Madigan issued a statement. He declared that all members of the House are required to draft and enforce sexual harassment policies for their offices. This entails that everyone on the Capitol take annual comprehensive sexual harassment training, and that lobbyists develop sexual harassment policies.
Illinois Sexual Harassment Attorneys
If you have been sexually harassed on your job and wish to seek a legal remedy for the actions of another person, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney. The lawyers at Benassi & Benassi have represented people from various industries who have been in your shoes. They are dedicated to ensuring that you don't have to work in a hostile work environment anymore. Contact them today for a free consultation.