Sexual Harassment Laws in Illinois: What Victims Should Know

  1. Sexual Harassment
  2. Sexual Harassment Laws in Illinois: What Victims Should Know
Sexual harassment

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a serious issue that affects many people in the workplace, education, and other settings. Thankfully, the Illinois Human Rights Act,  expressly prohibits this activity and protects victims from discrimination and retaliation when raising a claim. The Crone Law Firm family is dedicated, especially in the state of Illinois, to ensuring that doesn’t continue to be the case.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or offensive environment, interferes with a person’s work or education, or affects a person’s employment or educational opportunities. Sexual harassment can be committed by anyone, regardless of their gender, position, or relationship to the victim. It can take many forms, some of which may not be immediately obvious: 

  • Sexual jokes, comments, gestures, or innuendos
  • Displaying or sending sexually explicit or suggestive materials
  • Touching, grabbing, or groping
  • Pressuring or coercing someone to engage in sexual activity
  • Threatening or rewarding someone based on their sexual behavior
  • Sexual assault or even rape

What rights do victims have?

An important reminder – you have them and advocates, including those right here, in your corner.

Victims of sexual harassment have the right to report the harassment and seek legal remedies. In the state of Illinois, there are two main ways to file a complaint of sexual harassment: through the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or through a civil lawsuit.

Option One – Filing a complaint with IDHR

The IDHR is a state agency that enforces the Illinois Human Rights Act and investigates complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination. Victims can file a complaint with IDHR within 300 days of the last harassment incident. The IDHR will then conduct an investigation and determine whether there is substantial evidence of a violation. If so, the IDHR will try to resolve the case through mediation or conciliation. If not, the IDHR will dismiss the case and issue a notice of right to sue, which allows the victim to file a civil lawsuit.

If the case is not resolved by the IDHR, the victim can request a hearing before the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC), an independent body that adjudicates cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. The IHRC can order various remedies, such as:

  • Ceasing the harassment and preventing future harassment
  • Reinstating, hiring, or promoting the victim
  • Awarding back pay, front pay, or damages for emotional distress
  • Paying the victim’s attorney fees and costs
  • Imposing fines or penalties on the harasser or the employer

Option Two – Filing a civil lawsuit

Victims can also file a civil lawsuit against the harasser or the employer in state or federal court. To do so, they must first obtain a notice of right to sue from the IDHR or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that enforces federal laws against sexual harassment and discrimination. Victims can file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the notice of right to sue. In a civil lawsuit, the victim can seek the same remedies as in an IHRC hearing, as well as punitive damages, which are meant to punish the harasser or the employer and deter future misconduct.

What resources are available to help victims?

Victims of sexual harassment do not have to suffer in silence or deal with the problem alone. We want to ensure all of the resources are available to you at Crone Law Firm. Here are just a few:

  • The Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Helpline provides information, referrals, and counseling to victims of sexual harassment and discrimination. The helpline can be reached at 1-877-236-7703 or online at
  • The Illinois Attorney General’s Office provides legal assistance and advocacy to victims of sexual harassment and discrimination. The office can be contacted at 1-877-378-5465 or online.
  • The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which is a network of rape crisis centers that offer free and confidential services to victims of sexual harassment and assault, such as counseling, medical care, legal advocacy, and prevention education. The coalition can be reached at 1-217-753-4117 or online at [].
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline is a 24/7 confidential hotline that connects victims of sexual harassment and assault with local support services. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673 or online at [].

We know that sexual harassment in any form is a serious violation of human rights that can have devastating effects on victims’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you are a loved one who has been affected, let us know. You are not alone, and you deserve respect and justice.

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