The City of Chicago amends sexual harassment laws, including new training, policy, and notice requirements

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The City of Chicago (“the City”) recently amended its laws on sexual harassment in the workplace. Notably, by July 1, 2022, all employers in the City will be required to have a policy on sexual harassment. Additionally, beginning July 1, 2022, employees who work for an employer in the City will be required to complete one (1) hour of sexual harassment prevention training and one (1) hour of bystander intervention training each year (supervisors and managers will be required to complete an extra hour of sexual harassment prevention training). Employers must also display a poster in a visible area of their workplace that advises employees of the prohibition on sexual harassment by July 1, 2022.

To help employers comply with these new requirements, the City will provide model sexual harassment policies, training templates and materials, and a model written notice on their website by July 1, 2022.

Relatedly, a few of the many key changes to the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance (“Human Rights Ordinance”) already went into effect on June 4, 2022, including:

  • The definition of “sexual harassment” under the Human Rights Ordinance now includes “sexual misconduct.”
  • The time period for a complainant to provide a respondent with notice after filing a complaint under the Human Rights Ordinance has been expanded from ten (10) days to thirty (30) days. 
  • An individual who files a complaint under the Human Rights Ordinance now has 365 days, instead of 300 days, to report discrimination, including sexual harassment.
  • Anyone who violates the Human Rights Ordinance, including employers, are now subject to an increased penalty, from the previous $500 - $1,000 per violation, to $5,000 - $10,000.

In addition to reviewing all of the new changes that went into effect on June 4, 2022, employers should prepare for the new sexual harassment policy, poster, and training requirements, and, if necessary, with the assistance of legal counsel, conduct a review of your existing policies that may need to be updated in light of these provisions.

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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