Changes included expanded sexual harassment definition, mandatory policy statement content, additional training requirements, and increased statute of limitations and penalties for violations.
As part of a Citywide Strategic Plan to address gender-based violence and human trafficking, Chicago has modified its sexual harassment law. In the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, the definition of sexual harassment has been expanded to include sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is defined as “any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.”
Employers need to ensure that by July 1, 2022, they have a written policy on sexual harassment to include at least the following information. Additionally, employers must display a written notice, visible to all employees, informing them of the illegality of sexual harassment.
- The new definition of sexual harassment in Section 6-010-020 of the Human Rights Ordinance.
- A formal statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.
- Examples of conduct that constitutes sexual harassment.
- A statement detailing the training requirements [see below].
- Information on reporting allegations of sexual harassment including how and where to make a confidential report, with an internal complaint form, identifying the manager, human resources department, or another internal reporting mechanism.
- Any legal services are available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment, including local and federal government offices.
- A retaliation statement.
The City of Chicago is providing a model sexual harassment policy and written notice template, which will be available on their website by July 1, 2022, when the ordinance changes go into effect.
All employees shall participate in a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually. Supervisors or managers must participate in a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training annually. Employers must also provide one hour of bystander training for all employees. The existing Illinois state training template is acceptable to use for providing one-hour sexual harassment prevention training for employees. The City of Chicago will also be providing training templates for the additional hour of training and for the bystander training on their website by July 1, 2022.
Changes to all Forms of Discriminatory Practices
Effective June 4, 2022, the following actions apply to all forms of discrimination cases.
- The statute of limitations for filing a discrimination claim has been increased from 300 to 365 days.
- Penalties have increased from $500 - $1000 per violation to $5,000 to $10,000 per violation.
- The period to notify a respondent increased from 10 days to 30 days to mitigate any retaliation, e.g., a denial of a reasonable accommodation request.
Chicago employers should prepare for these changes by reviewing and revising their harassment policy statements and ensure that a notice is posted in a location visible to all employees. Employers should also create a plan for training all employees on an annual basis, taking into consideration new hires made throughout the year.