July 1, 2022 Deadline for Chicago Employers to Update Sexual Harassment Policies and Display New Poster

Smith Gambrell Russell

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance was amended recently to add significant sexual harassment prevention requirements for employers. By July 1, 2022, Chicago is requiring all employers with at least one employee working within the city’s boundaries to update their sexual harassment policies and display new posters.

The required written policy on sexual harassment must include at least the following:

  • A statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.
  • The definition of sexual harassment: 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; or (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.
  • A requirement that all employees participate in sexual harassment prevention training (details discussed below) annually.
  • Examples of prohibited conduct that constitute sexual harassment.
  • Details regarding:
    • How an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including, as appropriate, instructions on how to make confidential report, with an internal complaint form, to a manager, employer’s corporate headquarters or human resources department, or other internal reporting mechanism; and
    • Legal services, including governmental, available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment.
  • A statement that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.

The Chicago Commission on Humans Rights’ (CCHR) website has a City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for employers and a Sexual Harassment Model Poster.

As of July 1, 2022, all employers must provide both a Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and a Bystander Intervention Training. For the Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, supervisors and managers are required to complete a minimum of two hours annually. For all other employees, only a minimum of one hour annually is required. For the Bystander Intervention Training, all employees must complete a minimum of one hour annually. Training modules for both trainings will be made available to employers by July 1st, 2022 here. The first round of training must be completed by June 30, 2023.

In addition, the Amendments modify the definition of “sexual orientation” to mean a “person’s actual or perceived sexual and emotional attraction, or lack thereof, to another person.”

Going forward, employers must retain written records to show compliance with the Ordinance, including records of the policies and trainings provided to employees, for the longer of five (5) years or the duration of any claim, civil action, or investigation pursuant to the Ordinance.

The amendments increased penalties for all forms of discrimination from $500–$1,000 per violation, to $5,000–$10,000 per violation.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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