A popular South Loop bar, the South Loop Club, is set to square off against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over claims that it fostered a culture that enabled the sexual harassment of female employees by owners and management. If the employees complained about their supervisors' behavior, they were allegedly terminated or forced to quit. Others quit after their complaints failed to remedy hostile work conditions.
A hostile work environment in a sexual harassment context isn't simply a boss who dislikes you. Instead, there must be severe and pervasive conduct that a reasonable employee would find intimidating. The harassment must rise to a level that interferes with your ability to work.
Examples of inappropriate conduct include:
- Gawking, leering, or staring in a sexually suggestive manner;
- Remarking inappropriately about an employee's looks, clothing, or body parts;
- Inappropriate or uncomfortable touching, such as pinching, patting, groping, tickling, or any sexual contact;
- Making sexual or lewd jokes or gestures, or displaying sexual cartoons or images; and
- Sending sexually suggestive letters, notes, emails, or images.
Image courtesy of the Chicago Bar Project's review of the South Loop Club.
What offends one person might not offend another. That's why the standard followed by courts is that of the reasonable, or average, employee. The context of the workplace might come into play as well. For example, behavior inappropriate for a law office might be perfectly acceptable in a nightclub.
At this point, details on the alleged conduct of managers and owners of the South Loop Club have yet to be released. One can be confident that the suit is not completely frivolous, however, as the EEOC typically investigates claims and attempts to mediate the situation prior to filing a lawsuit.
- Consult a Chicago Employment Attorney (FindLaw)
- Sexual Harassment at Work (FindLaw)
- Has My Boss Created Hostile Work Environment? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Man Called 'Transylvanian Whore,' Sexually Harassed by Boss (FindLaw's Chicago Employment Law Blog)