Alert for Chicago Employers: Amended City Ordinance Requires Imminent Changes to Sexual Harassment Training and Policies

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Recent amendments to the Chicago Municipal Code and Chicago Human Rights Ordinance require employers to make certain changes to their sexual harassment policies, record-keeping practices, and training – some changes as soon as July 1, 2022.

Sexual Harassment Policies

By July 1, all employers with one or more employees in the City of Chicago who are either (i) subject to one or more of the license requirements in the Code; or (ii) maintain a business facility within the City must update their existing sexual harassment policies to provide:

  1. A statement that sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment are illegal in Chicago;
  2. The ordinance’s expanded definition of sexual harassment[1] and examples of prohibited sexual harassment;
  3. A statement that all employees are required to participate in: (1) a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training per year (unless the employee is a supervisor or manager, in which case the minimum requirement is two hours of sexual harassment prevention training per year); and (2) a minimum of one hour of “bystander” training per year; and
  4. Details on: (1) how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment; and (2) legal services available to employees who may be victims of harassment.

The written policy must be disseminated to the employee in the employee's primary language within the first calendar week of starting employment.

Sexual Harassment Posters

Also, by July 1, Chicago employers are required to display new posters published by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations in English and Spanish. A model notice can be found here.

Sexual Harassment Training and Recordkeeping

By June 30, 2023, all employees of Chicago employers must have participated in at least one hour of sexual harassment preventing training (or two hours for employees who have supervisor or managerial roles) and one hour of “bystander” training (which has yet to be defined by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations).

It is expected that the Commission on Human Relations will post model training modules on their website by July 1, 2022.

Employers must retain proof of employee training and records of compliant policies for at least 5 years.

Fines and Penalties

Failure to follow the above recordkeeping policy could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per day. Fines for violations of the sexual harassment provisions have also increased from a range of $500 - $1,000 per violation to $5,000-$10,000 per violation.

For additional information, please contact Burke Warren partners Rachel Bossard at 312-840-7029 / rbossard@burkelaw.com, Elizabeth Pall at 312-840-7099 / epall@burkelaw.com, or Alex Marks at 312-840-7022   / amarks@burkelaw.com.

[1] The expanded definition is as follows: “Sexual harassment means any (i) unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature or (ii) requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for any employment decision affecting the individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment; or (iii) sexual misconduct, which means any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.”

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