Chicago, IL: Expanded Requirements for Sexual Harassment Prevention
All Employers with Chicago, IL Employees
July 1, 2022
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Recent amendments to Chicago’s sexual harassment Ordinance now add new requirements for training, recordkeeping, and written policies. The definition of “sexual harassment” now includes sexual misconduct which is “any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.” Annual sexual harassment training must include: 1) one hour of sexual harassment prevention for all employees and two hours for supervisors and managers; and 2) one hour of “bystander” training for all employees. Bystander training should teach employees what they can and should do if they witness sexual harassment. The Ordinance states the initial round of trainings should be completed by June 30, 2023. For new hires thereafter, best practice would be to make sure training is completed within a year of an employee’s first day of employment, if not sooner. The Chicago Commission on Human Relations has provided training modules on all of these components here. However, employers should be aware these training modules are not compliant with the Ordinance’s own requirements.
Chicago employers also must have a written sexual harassment policy that includes the following minimum requirements: 1) be in writing; 2) be in the employee’s primary language; 3) state the definition of sexual harassment; 4) state that sexual harassment is illegal; 5) be provided to employees within their first week of employment; 5) provide a training plan that all employees must participate in on an annual basis; 6) provide examples of the prohibited conduct that constitutes sexual harassment; 7) identify a confidential process to report harassment; 8) provide a list of legal services, including governmental agencies, that are available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment; and 9) include a statement that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.
In addition, employers must display posters in at least one location where employees commonly gather. Posters must be in both English and Spanish. The written policy, training, and other records necessary to demonstrate compliance must be kept for five years or for the duration of any claim, civil action, or investigation pending under the Ordinance. Violations of the Ordinance come with fines between $500 and $1,000 per day for each violation and each day the violation continues. Substantive violations of the Ordinance will result in fines between $5,000 and $10,000. Examples of such violations include an employer engaging in sexual harassment or an employer failing to take reasonable corrective measures after becoming aware of sexual harassment by nonemployees or nonmanagerial or nonsupervisory employees.
- Read the amendments here.
- Revise harassment policies and training materials.
- Implement training schedules to comply with applicable deadlines.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on the requirements.
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