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.
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 notice will be available below.
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.
Victims will now have 365 days, instead of 300 days, to report all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment.
As of July 1, all employers must provide the following training annually:
  • 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention for all employees (2 hours for supervisors/managers)
  • 1 hour of bystander training for all employees
 The State training template, which provides one hour of training, would be sufficient for the sexual harassment prevention training for employees.  Training modules for the additional hour of training and for the bystander training will be made available to employers below by July 1, 2022. 
Increased penalties for all forms of discrimination from the previous $500 - $1,000 per violation, to $5,000 - $10,000

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Model Sexual Harassment Policy
All employers in Chicago are required to have a policy on sexual harassment. The City will provide model policies in the languages listed below by July 1, 2022 when the ordinance takes effect.
 
  • Spanish
  • Polish
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Arabic
  • Hindi 
 
Written Notice
All employers are required to post a written notice for all employees to see. The written notice will be available available for download by July 1, 2022 when the ordinance takes effect.
Training Materials
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 will be available to download by July 1, 2022 when the ordinance takes effect.
 
 
Outreach Materials
The following materials are available to inform businesses, employees, and residents about these new changes.

 

Outreach Flyer
 
 

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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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