Can legal action be taken against a mentally disabled individual who sexually adults someone?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can legal action be taken against a mentally disabled individual who sexually adults someone?

My wife works as a caregiver in a home of about 8 adults with mental/physical disabilities. One resident has, on several occasions, touched the female residents inappropriately. He is doing this on purpose obviously, and has apologized on certain occasions. However, the problem persists. My wife, as well as other employees, have reported this to the supervisor. No action has been taken. They were told the director of the house would contact them by Wednesday, which he did not. It is now Saturday. Would this be considered a hostile work environment? Can action be taken since the offender is

Asked on March 18, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The action is not against the mentally disabled person, who is not legally responsible for his actions if he is not legally competent; however, a sexual harassment or discrimination claim could potentially be brought against the employer for not taking action to prevent this once they were made aware of the issue (such as by assigning only male staff to this person or, if necessary, kicking this individual out of the program if there is no way to control his behavior and he needs a more restrictive or different environment): once an employer becomes aware of sexaul harassment of employees, even if by by clients/customers/patients/etc., it is obligated to take reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate that harassment. Of course, taking legal action against her employer is itself a very drastic step, and not one your wife should lightly do.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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