sexual harassment

Beginning July 1, 2022 – New Sexual Harassment Obligations for Chicago Employers

On April 27, 2022, Chicago’s City Council approved important amendments to Chicago’s sexual harassment laws. These changes impose additional requirements on covered employers to provide notice of the new sexual harassment laws and enhanced training. These changes also expand the type of misconduct covered under the ordinance and increase the penalties for businesses that violate the ordinance’s requirements.

What Was Changed

  1. As of June 4, 2022, the definition of “Sexual Harassment” was amended to include “sexual misconduct,” which is now defined as “any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.”
  2. As of July 1, 2022, covered employees must have a written policy regarding sexual harassment that complies with the ordinance, and must also display a poster regarding sexual harassment.
  3. As of June 4, 2022, the time period within which the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (“Commission”) must notify the respondent (the person causing harm) increases from 10 days to 30 days to mitigate against any retaliation.
  4. Charging parties now have 365 days, instead of 300 days, to file complaints with the Commission.
  5. As of July 1, 2022, all covered employers must provide enhanced training each year that includes: (a) 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention for all employees; (b) 1 hour of bystander training; and (c) 1 hour of additional training for all supervisors and managers.
  6. As of June 4, 2022, penalties for violations increased from $500 – $1,000 per violation to $5,000 – $10,000 per violation.

What Should Covered Employers Do?

The obligations for covered employers go into effect on July 1, 2022. Employers will need to do several things to ensure they are compliant and to avoid the significant increase in penalties:

• Update or draft a sexual harassment policy to comply with the new changes.
• Post the updated poster regarding sexual harassment.
• Update annual sexual harassment training programs to include the additional training required by the City of Chicago.

Illinois’ current sexual harassment training template is sufficient for 1 hour of training required by these changes. However, covered entities will need to provide up to an additional 2 hours of training. The City of Chicago will create separate training modules for employers covering the additional hour of training for supervisors and managers, as well as the additional hour for bystander training. These modules will be available by July 1, 2022.

These changes go into effect shortly, and it is important for employers to take steps to meet their obligations imposed by the new Chicago sexual harassment laws. If you have questions about how Levin Ginsburg can help, please reach out to Walker R. Lawrence, a partner in the employment law practice at Levin Ginsburg, at 312-368-0100.