June 29, 2022

Volume XII, Number 180

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Chicago Employers Face July 1 Deadline To Update Sexual Harassment Policies And Training

Highlights

The city of Chicago is requiring all employers to update their sexual harassment policies with required language by July 1, 2022, and to display new posters

All Chicago employers must implement expanded annual sexual harassment prevention training for all employees including supervisors, with the first round to be completed by June 30, 2023

The city has expanded deadlines to report violations of the new ordinance from 300 to 365 days and increased penalties

Employers with at least one employee working in the city of Chicago will need to comply with new amendments to the Municipal Code and Chicago Human Rights Ordinance regarding sexual harassment by July 1, 2022. These amendments affect sexual harassment policies, posters, record-keeping, and mandatory workforce training.

By July 1, all employers must update their existing sexual harassment policies to state that sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment are illegal in Chicago; provide definitions of prohibited sexual harassment; state that employees are required to participate annually in sexual harassment prevention training; and provide information on how employees can report allegations of sexual harassment internally (with applicable forms) as well as on legal and government services available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment.

Employers’ sexual harassment policies must be made available in the employee’s primary language, and contain the ordinance’s expanded definition of “sexual harassment,” which states:

“Sexual harassment means any (i) unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature or (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; (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.” 

In addition to updating policies, all Chicago employers are required to display – in one or more common areas – new posters published by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) in English and Spanish. The city has provided a model notice for display or publication by employers. 

Finally, the ordinance also revised the definition of protected “sexual orientation” as “… the actual or perceived state of heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality.”

Prevention Training Particulars

Also as of July 1, all employers must provide enhanced sexual harassment prevention training. This training must include one hour of sexual harassment prevention training for all employees that meets or exceeds the training requirements of the Illinois Human Rights Act – which provides for two hours of training for supervisors and managers – plus one hour of yet undefined “bystander” training. 

Employers may develop their own training, or adapt CCHR training modules, which are expected to be published by July 1. All trainings must be completed by June 30, 2023, and then repeated annually. 

Employers must retain proof of employee training as well as records of compliant policies for the longer of five years or the duration of any investigation or dispute. Failure to maintain records may result in a fine of up to $1,000 per day.

In addition, as of June 4, 2022, complainants now have up to 365 days from an alleged discriminatory act to file a complaint with the CCHR, which may delay notice of a complaint for up to 30 days. Fines for violations of sexual harassment provisions have increased to $5,000-$10,000 per violation.

© 2022 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 172
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About this Author

Of Counsel

Leveraging deep experience as outside and in-house counsel, Christina M. “Tina” Janice is passionate about partnering with employers throughout the United States to help them thrive. A skilled employment law litigator and counselor, she helps clients navigate the challenges of growing and managing their workforce.

With a unique practice spanning nearly 30 years as a career litigator, trial lawyer and former head of litigation for a multinational S&P 500 company, Tina is sought out by major corporations and local business owners for providing sophisticated representation to...

312-214-4802
Of Counsel

Christopher represents clients in state and federal court; regularly interacting with clients to advance their case and motivating opposing parties to resolution, when and if necessary. When resolution is possible, he zealously advocates for his client’s position and drafts settlement, release and conciliation agreements consistent with the terms his clients require.

As demonstration of his skill in advocating for his clients, he drafted a significant summary judgment motion in an 18-count complaint, which included Fair Housing Act, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the...

574-237-1106
Kenneth J. Yerkes Employment lawyer Barnes Thornburg
Partner

Chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Department for two decades, Ken Yerkes has spent over 30 years successfully fighting for his clients' rights and business objectives at the bargaining table, in arbitration and federal and state court, as well as in plants across the country through proactive training, counseling and union avoidance campaigns.

Ken's ability to transform complex scenarios into workable strategies has earned him not only his clients' trust, but also acclaim as one of the country’s recognized leaders in labor and employment law. He is a fellow...

317-231-7513
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