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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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