Allegations of sexual harassment against prominent public figures and organizations have shaken the nation. As a result of this current societal climate, both men and women have felt more compelled than ever to expose their harassers, and set the precedent for other victims who may be reluctant to speak out in fear of retaliation or being victim blamed. In light of the revelation that many employers actually perpetuate such behavior, some of these organizations appear to be making a conscious effort to significantly modify their approach to sexual misconduct claims.
A recent example of this shift in behavior is the firing of top-rated, longtime NBC news co-host Matt Lauer - a move that nobody could've predicted given the anchor's solid relationship with the most profitable franchise in network television. Lauer was dismissed due to allegations of sexual misconduct against a fellow co-worker. However, although the tides are gradually turning, many would agree that companies, organizations and entities have a long way to go in their endeavors to completely disentangle the sternly embedded culture of sexual harassment and misogyny in workplaces.
Several women in Chicago, Illinois are attempting to pursue a legal remedy for the mistreatment they endured at a jail in Cook County. According to recent articles, the women, who are correctional officers, have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the sheriff has condoned aggressive harassment from male detainees. They claim that despite constant reports of misconduct, authorities have completely disregarded reports of male detainees exposing themselves, openly masturbating and threatening women employees.
The lawsuit claims that the environment is extremely toxic for women workers, making it a hostile workplace. Jail guards and other workers fear that the if the harassment may soon escalate to the point of rape or death.
The sheriff's office responded to the allegations shortly after they surfaced. Cara Smith, the chief policy officer for the sheriff's office, released a statement saying the following:
“The safety and security of our staff and of those that work in the jail and courthouses is our number one priority. We will continue to do all we can to ensure a safe environment and to protect our staff from the despicable and criminal conduct of detainees in our custody.”
Sexual Harassment in Illinois
There are a number actions that can potentially fall under the realm of sexual harassment. It generally includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other types of physical or verbal unwanted conduct of a sexual nature.
The Illinois Human Rights Act aligns with most of the federal regulations regarding sexual harassment in the workplace and other spaces. However, it's important to note that employers will be held responsible for any employee that is in a supervisory position and facing sexual harassment allegations.
Illinois Sexual Harassment Attorneys
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in any setting, you do not have to remain silent. With the assistance of a skilled attorney, you can sustain a peaceful and respectful environment while holding perpetrators of sexual harassment accountable. Contact Benassi & Benassi today to get the justice you rightfully deserve.