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Illinois Employers Are Liable For Supervisor Conduct Toward Workers

When it comes to sexual harassment, Illinois employers are deemed responsible for a supervisor’s actions towards an employee.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that an employer is responsible for sexual harassment of an employee by a supervisor, even if that worker is not under his or her direct command. Or to put it another way, if a manager/supervisor makes advances toward any worker, not just one who works directly for them, it is still considered to be sexual harassment.

This is an important ruling and means that Illinois company owners must train their staff, including managers, on how to prevent sexual harassment in their workplace and how to avoid a hostile work environment as a result of the harassment. This ruling was handed down in Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department v. Illinois Human Rights Commission; a ruling that stated the employer is strictly liable for any manager’s or supervisor’s actions.

Part of this significant case involved a close look at the federal law in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which indicates that a person is not a supervisor unless they have direct authority over a victim’s employment status. The Illinois Human Rights Act does have this restriction, and their stated position is that employers are liable for the actions and conduct of every supervisor towards all employees in the company.

In Sangamon, a female records clerk filed a sexual harassment and retaliation complaint against the sheriff’s department. She stated a sergeant in the department, not her direct supervisor, was harassing her. In this case, the initial lawsuit was filed against the supervisor and the sheriff’s department.

The accused male harasser opted to settle out of court, thus dismissing him from the case, and leaving the department on the hook. The courts found the employer strictly liable for the man’s behavior even though she did not work directly under his authority. This ruling is important, as it, in effect, stretches out or expands the meaning of strict liability under Illinois law.

It should be mentioned that strict liability in this case means that the sheriff’s department was liable for the sexual harassment even if they did not know about it, and this applies whether the harassment was a hostile work environment or unwanted and unwelcome sexual come-ons. The court awarded the victim $23,000; $13,000 in court fees and $10,000 in damages.

Every case in this area of the law is different, and for this reason, if you have been in a similar situation in your workplace, call an experienced Chicago employment lawyer for advice and legal counsel. If you want to know what your rights are in situations like this one, or similar scenarios, the call you make to a Chicago employment lawyer will give you enough information to decide what you would like to do with your potential case.

Timothy Coffey is a <a href=””>Chicago employment lawyer</a> and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a <a href=””>Chicago employment attorney</a>, visit

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 at 3:15 am and is filed under Employment Law
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Am I entitled to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The FMLA provides that large companies must allow their employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they are seriously ill, are dealing with complications from a pregnancy, are new parents or are caring for a family member with a serious health problem. However, not all workers are entitled to this leave.

Some highlights concerning who is covered under the FMLA include:

  • The FMLA is aimed at businesses with 50 or more workers. Companies with over 15 employees must allow pregnancy disability leave.
  • You have to have been working for at least one year before the FLA applies to you.
  • A worker is eligible if he or she suffers from a serious health condition that means they can’t work; needs to care for a child, parent or spouse who is ill; is caring for a newborn or newly adopted child or new foster child; for prenatal care and pregnancy related illnesses or giving birth.

Learn more about who is covered under the FMLA here.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 at 7:28 pm and is filed under Disability and FMLA, Employment Law
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Know your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers protection to individual with disabilities in several ways. Disability discrimination may occur because of a current disability, and it also may occur when a covered employer treats an applicant or employee less favorably because he or she has a history of a disability. And example of this would be cancer that is controlled or in remission. Discrimination may also occur if an indicidual is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory and minor – even if he or she does not have such an impairment.

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

Note that not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law.

Learn more about the ADA and protect conditions here.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 at 7:27 pm and is filed under Disability and FMLA, Discrimination, Employment Law
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The Coffey Law Office offers helpful employment tips

The Coffey Law Office strives to provide clients with quality representation and useful information concerning Employment Law issues. To these ends, we are please to offer employment tips. A brief sample includes:

  • If you feel that you have been let go illegally, such as being fired as the result of you filing a discrimination complaint, Illinois has a statute of limitations. This means your claim has to be filed within a certain specified time period or you can’t take action on it. This is vital to discuss with your attorney.
  • Be aware that when you are working and for the first year after you have left your place of work, voluntarily or involuntarily, you’re entitled to a copy of your personnel records within 7 days after you ask for them. If you do not get them, you need to report that to the Illinois Department of Labor.
  • If you have been let go and are being subjected to some rude and possibly intimidating behavior, remain respectful and say nothing. Whatever you say could come back to haunt you later if a judge and jury hears what you said.

View all tips here.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 at 6:17 pm and is filed under Discrimination, Employment Law, Harassment, News and Press
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