In recent years, there has been new attention paid to the long-standing problem of workplace sexual harassment, which has resulted in a rise in false sexual harassment allegations. Sexual harassment is unlawful. As noted by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment can come in many different forms, including requests for sexual favors, unwanted/unwelcome advances, verbal harassment, and much more.
Of course, not every allegation of sexual harassment is legitimate. Unfortunately, a business owner, manager, or another employee could be falsely accused of harassment. All allegations must be handled with care and sensitivity. Here, our Chicago employment attorneys highlight three steps to protect yourself and your business from false sexual harassment allegations.
1. Stay Calm, Stay Professional, and Avoid Direct Confrontations
If you were falsely accused of sexual harassment, it is normal to feel frustrated, confused, and even angry. You may want to reach out to the accuser directly to talk about the issue. It is a mistake to do so. Once a workplace sexual harassment allegation has been leveled, it is a legal matter. You have a right to defend yourself and/or your business, but you need to do so in the appropriate manner. At this point, the best thing you can do is to stay calm, stay professional, and start crafting a legal case.
Note: Under Illinois law and federal law, retaliation against an employee who levels a sexual harassment complaint—even a false complaint—is strictly prohibited. Make sure you avoid any possible appearance of impropriety. Not only will retaliation make it more difficult to defend a false sexual harassment allegation, but it could also give rise to an employment lawsuit on its own.
2. Write Down What Happened and Save All Relevant Evidence/Information
A sexual harassment allegation is an employment law claim. Similar to other types of legal disputes, both the plaintiff and defendant will have an opportunity to present evidence. The more evidence you have, the better. As a starting point, it is a best practice to write down everything you know about the allegations. For example, if there was an incident, make sure you record the names of any eyewitnesses, You should also preserve all evidence and information that might be relevant to the case.
3. Consult With an Employer Defense Attorney
Dealing with a workplace sexual harassment allegation is complicated. It can expose an Illinois company to significant liability. It is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced Chicago sexual harassment defense attorney. Among other things, a lawyer will review your case, explain your rights under state and federal law, initiate a more comprehensive investigation, and help you take action to build a strong, compelling defense against the false sexual harassment allegations.
Call Our Chicago Employment Lawyers for Immediate Help
At North Suburban Legal Services LLC, our Chicago employment lawyers are experienced, attentive advocates for our clients. If you have any questions about defending yourself or your company from false sexual harassment allegations, we can help. Contact us now for a completely confidential initial legal consultation. We represent clients throughout the entire region, including in Joliet, Evanston, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Aurora, Orland Park, and Elgin.