Vandalia, IL asked in Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for Illinois

Q: Harassment at work has been reported and nothing done

I work for the state of illinois. A coworker has harassed me several times recently. I’ve reported it in writing to my supervisor. I’ve sent him the email of the harassment and nothing is done. I’ve also been written up for saying “I’m not a fan of him” when referring to the person harassing me. He has publicly (Facebook) stated he is ashamed to have worked with another employee and has not been written up. Do I have a case for harassment or hostile work environment?

2 Lawyer Answers
Cynthia Pietrucha
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  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Naperville, IL
  • Licensed in Illinois

A: I'm sorry to hear about your difficult situation. Not all "harassment" is illegal - or in other words being a jerk/rude is not enough to create legal claim. Instead the harassment must be based on a protected class characteristic like race, age, gender, etc. or retaliation because your tried to assert your legal rights to be free from illegal harassment. If you still have concerns, you should get specific job advice from an experienced employment law firm.

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Eva Zelson
Eva Zelson

A: You absolutely have the right to work in an environment free from harassment, and your employer has an obligation to do something about it if you report harassment in the workplace to them. However, to qualify legally as a hostile work environment, the harassment must be so severe or pervasive that it affects your ability to do your job. While it is unprofessional and outright mean to say via social media that you are “ashamed” to work with someone, this alone does not qualify as harassment. Is there more to it? Is your coworker ashamed because of your national origin, race, age, gender, or other protected status? Was there more harassment than just this one Facebook post? If so, consult with an experienced employment lawyer to discuss the evidence in your case and your legal options.

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