Sexual Harassment

Mayor Lightfoot and the Commission on Human Relations amended the city's sexual harassment laws in April 2022 to make them stronger and to uphold zero tolerance of violence and harassment in the workplace. 


Sexual Harassment is prohibited by the City of Chicago.

Anyone, regardless of their gender identity can be a victim of sexual harassment.

Acts that may be considered sexual harassment include:

  • Repeated, unwelcome sexually suggestive comments, gestures, e-mails, or pictures.

  • Unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature.

  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for an employment benefit such as a raise or promotion.

  • Subtle or direct threats that a sexual or personal relationship is required for employment, promotion, or other favorable treatment in the workplace.

  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for an agreement to rent an apartment or make repairs.

  • Subtle or direct threats that a sexual or personal relationship is required to continue a rental agreement for housing.

 


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Changes to Chicago's sexual harassment laws
The definition of sexual harassment now explicitly includes sexual misconduct
“Sexual harassment” means any (i) unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature;  (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;, or (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.

 

DefinItion change takes effect June 4, 2022
The City of Chicago sexual harassment model policy templates provided are meant to be expanded and tailored to meet the individual needs of employers.

 

As of July 1, 2022, all employers in the city of Chicago must have a written policy on sexual harassment. The written policy document shall include at least the following:
  • A statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.
  • The definition of sexual harassment as defined in Section 6-010-020
  •  A requirement that all employees participate in sexual harassment prevention training annually. 
  • Employees shall participate in a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually. Anyone who supervises or manages employees shall participate in a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training annually and all employees must participate in one hour of bystander training annually
  • Examples of prohibited conduct that constitute sexual harassment
  •  Details on:
    • how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including, as appropriate, instructions on how to make a confidential report, with an internal complaint form, to a manager, employer’s corporate headquarters or human resources department, or other internal reporting mechanism; and
    • legal services, including governmental, available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment.
  •  A statement that retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago.
The written policy must be available in the employee's primary language within the first calendar week of starting employment. Additionally, employers will be required to display a poster advising of the prohibition on sexual harassment where employees can see it. 

 

Model policies and the written notices are available below.
City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for Employers (English)
City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for Employers (Spanish)
City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for Employers (Polish)
City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for Employers (Simplified Chinese)
City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for Employers (Arabic)
City of Chicago Sexual Harassment Model Policy for Employers (Hindi)
 
written notices
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POSTER (ENGLISH)
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POSTER (SPANISH)
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POSTER (POLISH)
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POSTER (SIMPLIFIED CHINESE)
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POSTER (ARABIC)
SEXUAL HARASSMENT POSTER (HINDI)

 

Allows CCHR to expand the notification to the respondent (i.e. person alleged to have caused harm) timeline from 10 days to up to 30 days. This intends to help to mitigate any retaliation such as a denial of a reasonable accommodation request under the Illinois Victim's Economic and Security Act.

 

CHANGE TAKES EFFECT JUNE 4, 2022
Victims will now have 365 days, instead of 300 days, to report all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment.
DEFINTION CHANGE TAKES EFFECT JUNE 4, 2022
As of July 1, 2022, all employers must provide the following training annually:
  • One hour of sexual harassment prevention for all employees (2 hours for supervisors/managers)
  • One hour of bystander training for all employees
The sexual harassment and bystander Intervention training templates provided are meant to be expanded and tailored to meet the individual needs of employers. A list of additional training and informational material is included for your reference to assist each employer in tailoring their training to meet the one hour requirement. 

 

The State of Illinois training template, which provides one hour of training, would be sufficient for the sexual harassment prevention training for employees.
Increased penalties for all forms of discrimination from the previous $500 - $1,000 per violation, to $5,000 - $10,000
PENALTY CHANGES TAKE EFFECT JUNE 4, 2022
Q: I am a small business owner; do I have to comply with the City’s new sexual harassment laws?
A: Yes, the City of Chicago strives to create safe workplaces free from discrimination and harassment. Therefore, all employers, regardless of size must adhere to the City’s sexual harassment laws.
 
Q: My business already completes the annual sexual harassment training mandated by the State of Illinois.  Does this training satisfy the City of Chicago’s training requirements?
A: The model sexual harassment training prevention program prepared by the State of Illinois, required under 775 ILCS 5/2/2-109, satisfies the one-hour sexual harassment training required under the City’s law. However, under the City’s law, employers must also provide an additional hour of prevention training for supervisors and managers, and one hour of bystander intervention training for all employees annually. 
 
Q: I am a business owner and received a sexual harassment complaint from an employee. I investigated the complaint and discharged the person alleged to have engaged in the sexual harassment. Am I in compliance with the new sexual harassment law?
A: If you receive an internal complaint from an employee that alleges that the employee suffered sexual harassment in the workplace, your obligation is to investigate and take corrective measures. That may include discharging the employee alleged to have sexually harassed the other employee, but it may involve protecting the employee from outside vendors, including by dissolving relationships with them or others who are not employed by you. If the employee files a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR), whether or not you are in compliance with the new law will be determined during the investigation.
 
Q: Do I have to make my own poster?
A: No. Copies of the poster in English, Spanish, Polish, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, and Arabic are available for download on the Commission’s website, chicago.gov/cchr.
 
Q: Where should the poster be displayed?
A: The poster should be conspicuously displayed in a location where employees commonly gather, such as a breakroom, lunchroom, cafeteria, etc.
 
Q: What type of conduct is prohibited under the new sexual harassment law?
A: Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature such as pressuring an employee for sexual favors or to go out on a date​, deliberately touching, leaning over, or cornering another person, sexual looks or gestures or whistling at someone, sending letters, telephone calls, e-mails, texts, or other materials of a sexual nature​, or sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions.​ This list includes examples of sexual harassment, but it is not exhaustive.
 
Q: What is required in the written sexual harassment policy?
A:
  • Statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago
  • Definition of sexual harassment as defined in the Chicago Municipal Code Section 6-010-020
  • Requirement that all employees participate in annual sexual harassment prevention training and bystander intervention training
  • Examples of prohibited conduct
  • Details on how to report sexual harassment and legal services available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment
  • Statement that retaliation is prohibited
 
Q: Where do I find a sample of a sexual harassment policy?
A: A sample of the policy is available on CCHR’s website, chicago.gov/cchr.
 
Q: Where can businesses locate materials for sexual harassment training, supervisor/manager training and bystander intervention training?
A: Training materials are available on the CCHR’s website, chicago.gov/cchr.
 
Q: Do businesses need to report/certify that employees have completed sexual harassment and bystander intervention training?
A: Employers are required to maintain training records for a period of at least five years. Employers are not required to submit completed training records to the CCHR or the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).
 
Q: I am a business without a location in Chicago and I am not required to hold a City of Chicago business license; however, my employees may occasionally go on assignments in Chicago. Are we required to send the new anti-harassment ordinance posting to these employees?   
A: No. The posting requirement of the new sexual harassment protections apply only to businesses who, (1) are required to have a business license issued by the City of Chicago, or (2) maintain a facility within the geographical boundaries of the City of Chicago.
 
Q: My business is not considered an employer as defined by the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance (not subject to licensing requirements and/or does not maintain a facility in Chicago), but we have employees who occasionally work within the geographical boundaries of Chicago. Is my business required to maintain a sexual harassment policy, place the poster in the workplace, and conduct sexual harassment training?
A: No. The training, policy, and posting requirements of the new sexual harassment protections apply only to businesses who (1) are required to have a business license issued by the City of Chicago, or (2) maintain a facility within the geographical boundaries of the City of Chicago.
 
Q: When should businesses notify employees of the sexual harassment policy?
A: Within the first calendar week of an employee’s employment.
 
Q: What are the penalties for violating this law?
A: Any person who fails to post the notice regarding sexual harassment, fails to conduct annual sexual harassment prevention and bystander intervention training, or fails to develop a written sexual harassment policy is subject to a fine of $500-$1,000 for each offense.
Any person found liable for engaging in sexual harassment is subject to a fine of $5,000 - $10,000.
 
Q: Who enforces this law?
A: The Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) is the agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws, including sexual harassment.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) is responsible for enforcing the posting and training requirements.

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Model Sexual Harassment Policy
All employers in Chicago are required to have a policy on sexual harassment. The City model policies are listed in the languages listed below. July 1, 2022 is when the ordinance takes effect.
 
 
Written Notice
All employers are required to post a written notice for all employees to see. The written notice is available for download below. 
Training Materials
THE TEMPLATES PROVIDED ARE MEANT TO BE EXPANDED AND TAILORED TO MEET THE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS OF EMPLOYERS. 

 

All employees are required to have one hour of sexual harassment prevention training and one hour of bystander intervention. Additionally, supervisors / managers are required to have an additional one hour of prevention training. TRAINING TEMPLATES AND MATERIALS ARE available BELOW.
Outreach Materials
The following materials are available to inform businesses, employees, and residents about these new changes.

 


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To file a complaint with CCHR, you can:

Interpretation services available for all those filing a complaint.

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