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Chicago Passes New Ordinance to Help Protect Hotel Employees from Sexual Harassment

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Chicago Passes New Ordinance to Help Protect Hotel Employees from Sexual Harassment

The Committee on Workplace Development and Audit within the Chicago City Council voted to amend the Municipal Code to mandate that hotel employer to provide its employees with mobile panic devices when they work in and around bathrooms and guest rooms.


This new ordinance was enacted in largely based on survey responses indicating that nearly 60 percent of hotel employees in Chicago reported incidents of sexual harassment by guests and supervisors. The ordinance has been described as the “Hands Off Pants On” anti-harassment ordinance, according to the Chicago Tribune.


What the New Ordinance Does


Hotel employers will now need to meet the following new requirements to ensure their employees are safe from sexual harassment:


  1. As mentioned, offer employees a panic button, the cost of which cannot be passed on to the employee, which can be used to alert proper authorities of sexual assault or harassment.
  2. Create a policy that is meant to provide protection for employees against sexual assault and harassment. This policy must encourage employees to report instances of sexual harassment by guests, set forth procedures that the complaining employee can follow which may include letting the employee leave the workplace and immediate area of danger is perceived until hotel security or Chicago police arrive;
  3. Distribute a copy of their hotel’s anti-sexual harassment policy to all employees;
  4. Post the anti-sexual harassment policy in open and accessible areas of the hotel where employees would be reasonably expected to see it.


What Happens If Employers Violate This Ordinance


If you are an employee who reported a harassment incident and the employer violates this new ordinance, the employer could be subjected to a monetary fine for each violation. According to the ordinance, every day a violation is allowed to continue constitutes a distinct and separate offense.


This ordinance was passed by Committee and is likely to be signed into law by the City Council. If this happens, the law will be effective within ninety days of signature.


Speak to a Chicago Employment Lawyer Right Away


As you can see, if you are an employee who has been subjected to sexual harassment, you have legal avenues to hold a negligent employer accountable for not providing a safe workplace. If you have questions or concerns about how your legal rights after a harassment incident, speak to an experienced Chicago employment lawyer with Goldman & Ehrlich today.

Evidentiary Standards in Employment Discrimination Cases Addressed in Seventh Circuit Case

The 7th U.S Court of Appeals recently addressed an important issue – the standard for acceptable evidence in an employment discrimination case. The 7th Circuit’s decision was issued in Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises, No. 15-2574 (Aug. 19, 2016). In Ortiz, the plaintiff was a freight broker employed by Werner Enterprises. His employment was terminated in 2012 due to an allegation that he falsified business records. The plaintiff asserted that he did not engage in this conduct and actually corrected records. The plaintiff went on to claim that he was fired due to his Mexican heritage. The plaintiff cited multiple incidents where his supervisors used racial slurs to describe him to colleagues.


Evidentiary Standard Used by the Trial Court


The trial court judge, in assessing whether or not the plaintiff was subjected to discrimination, utilized both the direct method and indirect method when analyzing the evidence.


In employment discrimination cases, a judge could use the direct method, which requires evidence of obvious discrimination. For example, when the manager makes clear racist comments about the employee before terminating him. In contrast, the indirect method relies on circumstantial evidence such as terminating a Hispanic employee while only issuing a verbal warning to a Caucasian employee for the same conduct, or other questionable circumstances that create an inference of discrimination.


Seventh Circuit Emphasizes Objective Standard


On appeal, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court’s reliance on either a direct or indirect method or any specific formula as a standard for acceptable evidence. The 7th Circuit recommended that the lower court use an objective standard of evidence established in a myriad of other relevant court decisions. This objective standard focuses on whether a reasonable juror could conclude that an individual would have retained their employment if they had a different ethnic background and all other evidence remained unchanged. This standard would consider any relevant evidence to make this determination. The lower court in Ortiz did not use this objective standard. Therefore. the 7th Circuit sent the case back for further review.


Chicago Employment Lawyer Ready to Help


As you can see, litigating an employment discrimination case can get complicated with an array of different evidentiary standards that may come into play. If you or a family member suspect you were discriminated against in the workplace, take action and contact the experienced Chicago employment lawyer with Goldman & Ehrlich right away. We are here to help answer questions and address your concerns. We understand the complex array of employment laws and regulations in Chicago and want to put that knowledge and experience to work for you.


Overview of the Mediation Process in a Chicago Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Reports of sexual harassment in the workplace are making national headlines on a daily basis. From Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer, it is apparent that female employees are being subjected to extremely disturbing behavior and sexual advances by supervisors.


If you find yourself in a situation where a supervisor is making unwanted advances or displaying sexually aggressive behavior, there are important steps you can take to protect your legal rights and hold the employer accountable.


One of the first steps is to file a sexual harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). Once you file the claim, an EEOC investigator will examine the claim and work to reach a resolution. If the EEOC for IDHR inds that sexual harassment took place, it could attempt to resolve the claim via settlement. For example, they may recommend mediation between you and your employer. These Agencies may also suggest that the parties engage in mediation before the investigation begins.


What Exactly is Mediation?


Mediation is categorized as an alternative dispute resolution with the objective of creating an environment where the two parties involved in a dispute work with or through a mediator to achieve an objective. The mediator works with both you and your employer as an unbiased third party to allow both parties to negotiate a resolution.


The Details of Your Claim Remain Private in Mediation


A potential advantage of working towards a resolution through mediation is the fact that you retain a level of privacy that is unavailable if you file a lawsuit in state or federal court. This is because court-filed records are public information. In mediation, you have the ability to keep the details of your claim private and between the parties yourself, including details concerning any settlement. It can also be a relatively quicker and less expensive way of resolving your claim.


Mediation Requires Collaboration


It is important to understand the objective of mediation – to achieve a resolution. This means you should not go into the mediation looking to settle a score or have your claim validated. You should be looking for a reasonable middle ground where you are properly compensated and can move on with your life.


Potential Compensation You Can Obtain Through Mediation


There are no restrictions to what might be obtained in mediation, but both parties must agree to the settlement terms. Some of the forms of compensation and relief that are typically discussed in mediation include the following:


  • Financial restitution;
  • The employee or employer who harassed you is relocated or transferred;
  • Assistance with finding you new employment or allowing you to transfer to a different location, if you prefer; and/or


Chicago Employment Lawyer Here to Help


It is usually advisable to have an employment law attorney represent you in mediation who can maximize your chances of getting the best and most realistic result. If you were subjected to workplace sexual harassment, you have legal rights and can pursue a claim against your employer. To learn more about your legal rights, contact the experienced and skilled Chicago workplace harassment lawyers of Goldman & Ehrlich right away. We are here to help answer questions and address your concerns.