Attention Illinois Local Governments: Statute Requires Action on Harassment Policies

Authored by Karen E. Milner

Dec 11, 2017

In November, Illinois Governor Rauner signed Public Act 100-0554.  It imposes specific requirements on the state with regard to policies and procedures required for dealing with sexual harassment.  Significantly, it also imposes new obligations on every Illinois governmental unit.

Specifically, no later than Jan. 15, 2018, each governmental unit must adopt an ordinance or resolution establishing a policy to prohibit sexual harassment.  The policy must include, at minimum:

  1. A prohibition on sexual harassment;
  2. Details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including options for making a confidential report to a supervisor, ethics officer, the Inspector General, or the Department of Human Rights;
  3. A prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment allegations, including the availability of whistleblower protections under this Act, the Whistleblower Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act; and
  4. The consequences for a violation of the prohibition on sexual harassment and the consequences for knowingly making a false report.

While most cities and municipalities already have harassment policies in place that comply fully or substantially with these requirements, it is important to note that an ordinance or resolution must be officially adopted establishing the policy, which was previously not a specific requirement for units of local government.  This is a good time to have one of our attorneys review your harassment policy to ensure it contains a full and complete definition of sexual harassment (per Illinois law) and to ensure that your local governmental unit passes the required ordinance/resolution to comply with the new Illinois law.

The new law also requires specific action by Illinois State government, including sexual harassment training requirements for state officials, lobbyists, and employees. The Act specifies the minimum requirements for such training and requires that each Ethics Commission receive a report summarizing the training that has taken place each year and make those reports available on the applicable Commission’s website.

If you have any questions regarding the required harassment policies or training, please contact any of the lawyers on Lowenbaum Law’s employment law team, including Karen Milner, Whitney Cooney, or Jamie Westbrook.

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