Recently, the Chicago City Council created new standards employers must follow regarding sexual harassment. These new standards include training for employees and supervisors on sexual harassment prevention and how to respond to sexual harassment as a bystander. This amendment became effective on July 1st, but what does the updated code really say?
The code maintains the definition of the employer but changes the meaning of the employee. An employee is “an individual who is engaged to work within the geographical boundaries of the City of Chicago for or under the direction and control of another for monetary or other valuable consideration.” The updated version maintains its liability provision, which states that no one in the company or associated with the business should engage in sexual harassment and that an employer is held accountable if they are made aware of sexual harassment, but no action is made to stop it.
Some of the new wording in the code requires employers to provide a written policy to employees within the first week of employment. In the written policy, there must be the definition of sexual harassment, a notice that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago, and information about the annual training requirements. There must be a minimum of one-hour training for sexual harassment prevention and a minimum of two hours of the same training for anyone that supervises or manages other employees. All employees will also have a minimum of one hour of bystander training.
What else is included in the policy?
The written policy should include examples of sexual harassment, a detailed walkthrough on how employees can report sexual harassment, and information about government agencies and legal services that can help if you are a victim of sexual harassment. Finally, the written policy must state that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal in the city of Chicago. For the training, Employers can use programs created by the Illinois Department of Human Rights, or the company can create their own program in accordance with the Illinois Human Rights Act.
What will Enforcement Look Like?
Employers must display two posters, one in English and the other in Spanish, in a common space for employees that outlines sexual harassment prohibitions. Employers must have written records of the training of all employees. Failure to maintain these records for at least five years creates a presumption that the employer violated the ordinance. Failure to adhere to the ordinance can create a fee ranging from $500 to $1,000 per day.
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