Appeals Court raises the stakes significantly for employers who tolerate, neglect or ignore workplace harassment.
Since the IGVA’s passage, employment lawyers have debated whether a business qualified as a “person” that could be found liable under the Act for harassment involving violence, since the IGVA allows for suits only against “persons.” In Gastic v. Marquette Management, Inc the Court of Appeals Third District ruled that business entities, like corporations, may be “persons” who can be sued under the IGVA “under some circumstances.”
The court’s ruling leaves open many questions, including under what specific circumstances would a business potentially face liability, and even whether other Illinois courts or the Illinois Supreme Court will embrace the ruling. Until such questions are answered, Illinois employers should expect victims of sexual harassment involving violence or threats of violence to include IGVA claims in their harassment lawsuits.
This, of course, is just another reason it’s imperative for employers to monitor their workers and those who come in contact with them for individuals with violent propensities, and to take all reasonable steps to protect their workforce from harm from such persons — for instance, by enacting and enforcing zero-tolerance policies for violence and workplace bullying, conducting anti-bullying and harassment prevention training, and investigating and responding to harassment complaints as soon as they arise.
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Gary Savine is an Illinois employment lawyer and founder of Savine Employment Law, Ltd. in Chicago. Gary regularly advises human resources professionals on recently enacted employment laws.
Gary Savine speaks on Wage & Hour Compliance and Workplace Investigations.
In the coming months, our HR clients will have two new opportunities to hear Gary speak live on fostering a legally compliant workplace, as part of the Financial Poise Webinar series, “HR, Talent Management & Employment Law Boot Camp 2019.”
On June 5, 2019, Gary will be a featured panelist on the Webinar entitled “Show Them the Money: Wage and Hour Compliance.”
On August 7, 2019, Gary will be a featured panelist on the Webinar entitled “I Know What You Did Last Summer: Workplace Investigations.”
More information, and instructions for registration, can be found here.