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July 13, 2022
By: Jonathan Ksiazek

On April 27, 2022, the Chicago City Council approved amendments to the sexual harassment provisions of City of Chicago Human Rights Ordinance. These amendments expand training obligations, update employers’ obligations to provide their employees with a written sexual harassment policy and update the definition of sexual harassment, among other changes, effective July 1, 2022.

As of July 1, 2022, all employers in Chicago must provide the following sexual harassment training annually to their employees:

  • One hour of sexual harassment prevention training for all employees;
  • Two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors and managers; and
  • One hour of bystander training for all employees.

The sexual harassment training available through the Illinois Department of Human Rights satisfies the one-hour harassment prevention training requirement for all employees.

As of July 1, 2022, employers in Chicago also must have a written policy on sexual harassment and post a notice of employee rights in English and Spanish. While most employers already have a written harassment policy, the new law requires an employer’s written policy to include:

  • A statement that sexual harassment, and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, is illegal in Chicago;
  • The updated definition of sexual harassment, amended to include sexual misconduct which is defined as “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 annually;
  • Details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including instructions on how to make a confidential report with an internal complaint form to a manager, the employer’s corporate headquarters, human resources, or other internal reporting mechanism; and
  • Details on legal services, including governmental, available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment.

Under these amendments, an employee now has 365 days, rather than 300 days, to report all forms of discriminatory practice, including sexual harassment, to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.  The penalties for discrimination now range from $5,000 to $10,000, a significant increase from the previous range of $500 to $1,000 per violation.

To comply with these amendments, Chicago employers should take the following steps:

  • Revise their harassment policies to include each of the newly required provisions.
  • Provide annual sexual harassment prevention training and bystander training for all employees (1 hour), and annual sexual harassment training for managers and supervisors (2 hours); and
  • Maintain records of compliance with the ordinance, including training records.