Have you heard the news? In 2020 Illinois is making some major changes when it comes to tackling sexual harassment. Fueled by nationwide movements like #metoo and Times Up, this year the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate worked to create legislation that would provide a holistic approach to the unfortunately still too common problem of workplace sexual harassment. Governor JB Pritzker signed the product of their efforts, Public Act 101-0221, into law on August 19, 2019. The major focuses of the law are to expand required sexual harassment trainings, implement new protocols for hospitality workers, and add safeguards for contractors and consulting professionals.
The law goes into affect January 1, 2020. Is your company prepared? Here are the highlights to keep in mind as we head into the new year:
- Training. The law requires that all employers of one employee or more provide educational programming that: clearly defines sexual harassment, gives examples of how this misconduct may play out, offers information and options available from governmental agencies (Illinois Department of Human Rights and Illinois Human Rights Commission) to victims of harassment, and lays out procedures instituted by the employer to prevent, inspect, and mitigate instances of harassment.
- Contractors & Consultants. As a way of broadening the umbrella of protections for those facing harassment and/or assault in the workplace, the law extends protections to all employees, including consulting and contracted staff.
- Hidden Clauses. The Workplace Transparency Act ends the practice of companies including contracts, clauses, or other documentation that bars employees from reporting sexual harassment.
- Hotels & Casinos. The Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act is created to require explicit provisions for these hospitality industries. These employers must supply (at no cost to employee) a means of contacting safety personnel for those who work in a space that is secluded from others. Additional protection policies must be developed and maintained to address instances of patrons harassing employees.
- Disclosures to IDHR. There is now a requirement for employees to report to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) any adverse judgements/rulings to harassment, and proof they have provided their employees with sexual harassment prevention training. This part of the law begins July 1, 2020.
- Penalties. Those businesses that fail to comply with the law will be penalized with fines beginning at $500 (for those with less than 4 employees) and $1000 (for those over four employees).
Have no fear: Catharsis Productions can help! Our program Please Advise is a comprehensive way to train employees on these issues. We lay the groundwork to foster inclusive workplaces by empowering employees to challenge the behaviors that promote misconduct before it happens. We can provide your company and your employees with the certifications you need. And most importantly, we will make sure you are ready to take on the challenge of improving our culture, within your workplace and beyond.
A native of Massachusetts, Anthony moved to Chicago after graduation from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in English and Theatre. Fierce advocate for those who's voices are not heard nearly enough.