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Illinois strengthens sexual harassment, retaliation laws

Regular readers of our Wisconsin and Chicago metro area employment law blog know that news reports on TV and in the papers have often focused in recent months on stories about sexual harassment. Although coverage of the brave people who have come forward has been overwhelmingly positive, one aspect of their stories still receives too little attention: the workplace retaliation workers suffer after reporting sexual harassment.

The state of Illinois has taken steps to tamp down retaliation. In November, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law that strengthened prohibitions on workplace sexual harassment. The measure included a ban on retaliation and made provisions for retaliation claims to be filed under the Illinois Human Rights Act, the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act and the Whistleblower Act.

What constitutes retaliation? It often includes firing, demotion, wage reduction, negative performance reviews and the like.

Sitting on the state line, Winnebago County is a westerly halfway point between Chicago and Milwaukee. The new County Board Chairman there recently said in a review that workplace misconduct has often been overlooked by elected officials. “Sexual harassment complaints were reported but ignored by an elected official, permitting sexual harassment and perpetuating a hostile work environment,” Chairman Frank Haney wrote.

He added that even though local governments are beefing up harassment and retaliation policies, the problems aren't solved "just because we changed a few words in a policy document."

While we appreciate that policies have been strengthened, we also realize that words alone will not change behavior. Sometimes forceful action is required.

Sexual harassment and retaliation victims can fight back against misconduct. With the assistance of an employment law attorney experienced in sexual harassment and retaliation litigation, the battle can be waged in Wisconsin or Illinois.

Contact Fox & Fox, S.C. to learn how our lawyers will fight for your rights and protect your career and dignity.

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