On April 27, 2022, the City of Chicago Office of the Mayor announced the approval of several enhancements to the city’s sexual harassment laws in the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance. These enhancements are part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Citywide Strategic Plan to address gender-based violence and human trafficking.
The definition of “sexual harassment” in the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance is now expanded to explicitly include sexual misconduct, which is defined as “any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.” This definition change takes effect June 4, 2022.
The full definition of “sexual harassment” now “means any (i) unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature; (ii) requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for any employment decision affecting the individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment; or (iii) sexual misconduct, which means any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.”
As of July 1, 2022, Chicago employers must have a written policy on sexual harassment. Additionally, employers must display a poster providing notice and advising of the prohibition on sexual harassment where employees can see it. The written policy must include at least the following:
A model sexual harassment policy and written notice template will be available on the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) website by July 1, 2022, when the ordinance goes into effect.
As of July 1, 2022, all employers must provide the following sexual harassment training annually to employees:
The current Illinois state training template, which provides one hour of training as required by the Illinois Human Rights Act, is sufficient for the sexual harassment prevention training for employees. Training templates and materials for the additional hour of training and for the bystander training will be available on CCHR’s website to download by July 1, 2022, when the ordinance goes into effect.
Victims will now have 365 days, rather than 300 days, to report all forms of discriminatory practice, including sexual harassment. This change goes into effect on June 4, 2022.
The ordinance is increasing the penalty for individuals and/or business that participate in discriminatory practices, including sexual harassment, in the workplace to $5,000 – $10,000 per violation, rather than $500 – $1,000 per violation. This penalty change goes into effect on June 4, 2022.
Chicago employers should review and take steps to ensure that their current sexual harassment policy documentation and training modules are in compliance with the new ordinance’s training, notice and policy requirements when the changes fully go into effect on July 1, 2022.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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