EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

Chicago Sexual Harassment Laws Updated

By Kris Janisch
Published May 18, 2022

Chicago Sexual Harassment Laws

Employers with locations in Chicago should review the city’s updated sexual harassment laws to ensure compliance ahead of the July 1, 2022, effective date.   

In late April 2022, the Chicago sexual harassment training ordinance was updated with new requirements for employers.

The amendments generally fall into six categories:

  • Enhanced definition of sexual harassment
  • Written policy and posting requirements
  • New safety measures for employees
  • An increase in the statute of limitations
  • New training requirements
  • Increased penalties

The updates to Chicago’s sexual harassment ordinance go into effect July 1, 2022.

Related: The State of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Today

Chicago Sexual Harassment Laws

From training to posting, the updated Chicago sexual harassment laws have plenty of items for employers to monitor.

Definition

First, the updated definition of sexual harassment includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature
  • Requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature related to work, i.e., employment decisions or creating a hostile environment
  • Sexual misconduct, including coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position

Written Policies and Posting Requirements

Starting July 1, 2022, all Chicago employers must have a written policy regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. The document must “at least” include:

  • A statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago
  • The definition of sexual harassment as defined in Section 6-010-020
  • A requirement that all employees participate in sexual harassment prevention training annually

Also, the policy must note that most employees have to go through a minimum of one hour of training, but supervisors and managers must go through two. All employees must participate in one hour of bystander training annually.

Further details of an employer’s written policy include:

  • Examples of prohibited conduct that constitute sexual harassment
  • How an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment
  • Legal services, including governmental, available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment
  • A statement that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago

The written policy must be available in the employee’s primary language within the first calendar week of starting employment.

Additionally, employers will be required to display a poster regarding the prohibition on sexual harassment in a conspicuous place on the premises.

Safety Measures

The amendments also allow the Chicago Commission on Human Relations to expand the notification to the respondent (the person alleged to have caused harm) timeline from 10 days to up to 30 days.

The intent is help to diminish any retaliation, such as a denial of a reasonable accommodation request under the Illinois Victim’s Economic and Security Act.

Statute of Limitations

Alleged victims of workplace sexual harassment in Chicago, starting July 1, 2022, have 365 days, instead of 300 days, to report all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment.

Training Requirements

As stated above as part of the written policy Chicago employers must have, the annual training requirements as of July 1, 2022, include:

  • One hour of sexual harassment prevention for all employees (two hours for supervisors/managers)
  • One hour of bystander training for all employees

An Illinois training template, which provides one hour of training, would be sufficient for the sexual harassment prevention training for employees. Training modules for the additional hour of training and for the bystander training will be made available to employers by July 1, 2022.

Employers also must keep written records of the policies and trainings.

Penalties for Violations

Lastly, Chicago has increased penalties for all forms of discrimination from the previous $500 to $1,000 per violation to $5,000 to $10,000.

Conclusion

In the #MeToo era, lawmakers continue to enact legislation related to workplace harassment.

A number of states have sexual harassment training laws, including:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • New York
  • Washington

Employers with locations in Chicago should review the city’s updated sexual harassment laws to ensure compliance ahead of the July 1, 2022, effective date.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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