May 2022: Chicago City Council Pass Amendments to Sexual Harassment Laws

24 May


Update Applicable to:
All employers in the city of Chicago, Illinois

What happened?
On April 27, 2022, the Chicago City Council passed an amendment to the city’s sexual harassment laws that expands the definition of sexual harassment, increases training requirements for employees and managers, adds a new requirement for employers to establish a written policy on sexual harassment, and applies stricter penalties for violations.

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What are the details?
Effective July 1, 2022, all employers must have a written policy on sexual harassment including: 

  1. A statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago
  2. The definition of sexual harassment (as defined by the ordinance) 
  3. A requirement that all employees participate in sexual harassment prevention training annually
  4. Examples of prohibited conduct that constitute sexual harassment 
  5. Details on reporting and legal services 
  6. A statement that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago

The training requirement states that “employees shall participate in a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually.” Managers and supervisors have a heightened requirement to participate in “a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training annually.”

In addition to sexual harassment prevention training, “all employees must participate in one hour of bystander training annually.” Bystander intervention training teaches strategies on how onlookers can involve themselves both directly and indirectly into harassment incidents to help those being targeted. 

The Commission on Human Rights, which monitors and enforces the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, provides guidance on their website for training, policy, and notice requirements that employers must have prepared by July 1, 2022. 

Fines for violations of the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance have increased significantly, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per violation, paid to the city. Other penalties include damages and attorney’s fees paid to the complaining party. The city may also enjoin employers to take specific actions to eliminate discriminatory practices. Finally, a finding of sexual harassment or other discrimination may affect the continued licensure of a business in the city of Chicago.

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For more information, please see the links below:

Illinois Human Rights Act

Chicago Commission on Human Relations Guidance

Sexual Harassment in Employment

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above, make changes to their sexual harassment policies, and provide additional training to their employees to be in compliance with the amended law.

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