Gov. Pritzker signs legislation to protect victims of sexual harassment in workplace

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his first budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate at the Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed comprehensive legislation Friday to help prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and protect victims as they come forward.

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the state of Illinois,” said Pritzker. “This commonsense law makes it clear that the days of turning a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace are over.”

The omnibus legislation strengthens protections for employees, responsibilities for employers and accountability for abusers – at workplaces across the state, with increased attention to hotels, casinos and state government.

Workplace Transparency Act

  • Strengthens the ability of employees to report allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation to federal, state or local officials
  • Makes harassment against contract employees illegal
  • Requires DFPR to examine civil rights violations with IDHR for existing and future state license holders
  • Requires IDHR to adopt a model sexual harassment prevention training program that includes federal and state laws protecting victims and employers’ responsibilities in preventing, investigating and taking corrective measures on sexual harassment
  • Requires employers to use the IDHR sexual harassment prevention training program or establish a similar or more stringent training for employees
  • Prohibits employers from disclosing the name of a victim of an act of alleged sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination in any disclosures
  • Requires every bar and restaurant to have sexual harassment policies and prevention training

Sexual Harassment Victim Representation Act

  • Ensures a victim and accused perpetrator are not represented by the same union representative in proceedings

Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act

  • Requires hotels and casinos to provide employees who work in isolated spaces with panic buttons to use if they are sexually harassed or assaulted
  • Requires hotels and casinos to develop and follow written anti-sexual harassment policy to protect employees against sexual harassment and sexual assault by guests
  • Bans employer retaliation for an employee disclosing, reporting or testifying about sexual harassment and sexual assault

Strengthening Protections in State Government

  • Requires state officers, employees and lobbyists to participate in annual harassment and discrimination prevention training
  • Establishes specific rights for people subjected to discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment during an investigation by an Inspector General
  • Clarifies the jurisdiction and duties of Executive Inspectors General, the Executive Ethics Commission, the Legislative Inspector General and the Legislative Ethics Commission
  • Strengthens the complaint process, reporting and independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made against an elected official

“The Illinois Department of Human Rights is proud to have worked on this critical, bipartisan piece of legislation,” said Jim Bennett, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

This new law takes effect Jan. 1, with the exceptions of the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act taking effect July 1, 2020, and changes to the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act taking effect immediately.

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