Several laws in Chicago make sexual harassment in the workplace illegal. However, sexual harassment charges still account for approximately 27.7% of all harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This would suggest that there is still room for improvement in Chicago’s sexual harassment laws that will better prevent incidents and support victims. Fortunately, recent updates to these laws as of July 1, 2022, may help move things in the right direction when it comes to improving victim’s rights.
In This Article:
- Improvements to Sexual Harassment Laws in Chicago
- Liability For Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
- How to Report Sexual Harassment in Illinois
- When to Contact a Lawyer About Sexual Harassment at Work
5 Improvements to Sexual Harassment Laws in Chicago
Chicago made some important improvements to its existing sexual harassment laws that may make it easier for victims to report their assailants as well as motivate employers to create a safe, harassment-free work environment. The most notable changes include:
1) Enhancements to the definition of sexual harassment. The definition of sexual harassment has been clarified to explicitly include sexual misconduct.
2) Requirements for employers to incorporate a written sexual harassment policy. The Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) has made a model policy available to employers. Businesses are now required to display a poster that provides information on sexual harassment in the workplace. This must be located where all employees can see it.
3) Added safety measures for employees. The CCHR now has up to 30 days (previously 10 days) to notify a respondent of a complaint that has been filed. This is meant to help mitigate any possible retaliation after the respondent has been accused.
4) Increases the statute of limitations. Victims now have 365 days to report sexual harassment as opposed to 300 days/
5) Improved preventative training. Employers must require all employees (including contractors who engage with other employees) to complete 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually (2 hours for managers/supervisors).
6) Increased penalties. Penalties for discrimination have been increased from $500 – $1,000 per violation to $5,000 – $10,000.
Liability for Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
In the workplace, employers are generally responsible for upholding sexual harassment laws and preventing the occurrence in their organization. Regardless of whether they knew about it or not, employers are liable for managers and supervisors who are guilty of sexual harassment. Additionally, the responsibility falls on the employer if a co-worker or nonemployee is the perpetrator and the employer was aware or should have been aware of the harassment.
Employers are not only responsible for preventing sexual harassment but also for investigating and correcting any incidents in the workplace. Remember that even sexual harassment that occurs outside of a physical work location is still considered workplace harassment when involving colleagues. When an employee discovers any claim of sexual harassment, they must:
- immediately respond to the complaint.
- maintain confidentiality.
- interview the complainant.
- take reasonable actions to protect the victim from continued harassment or retaliation.
- interview all witnesses.
- interview the alleged perpetrator.
- take appropriate corrective action.
- clearly document the results of the investigation.
How to Report Sexual Harassment in the State of Illinois?
In the state of Illinois, there are several ways an employee can report sexual harassment. Ultimately, making a report in a timely manner will help your claim in the long run. Here are the four ways you can report sexual harassment at work/
- Report the incident to your employer
- Call Illinois’ Sexual Harassment & Discrimination Helpline
- File a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- File a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights
Reporting a sexual harassment claim at work can be an incredibly difficult step to take. It’s important to remember that it is not your fault that your rights were violated and that sexual harassment laws continue to work towards supporting victims. Just between the years of 2018 and 2021, the EEOC recovered $299.8 million for victims of sexual harassment.
When to Contact a Lawyer About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you experienced sexual harassment in a work environment, know that you are not alone and you do not have to get through this alone. An attorney who is well-versed in Illinois employment and harassment laws would be able to guide you through the process of filing your report. Many of the reporting methods previously listed can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Additionally, an experienced lawyer will know how to maximize the compensation you are rightly owed for your experience.
The changes that Chicago has made to its sexual harassment laws are a step in the right direction. At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we know how delicate this process can be and are here to help empower those who have experienced sexual harassment to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. We’re in your corner. If you need assistance in filing your harassment claim or feel that your employer has not appropriately responded to your claim as required by law, contact us today for a FREE case review. Call (312) 600-6000 today.