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Equity & Justice

All Illinois Employers May Be Required To Do Sexual Harassment Training

Maureen McKinney
NPR Illinois
State Sen. Melinda Bush talks about her then-planned -- but now adopted -- sexual harassment legislation.

All Illinois employers would have to conduct sexual harassment training under sweeping legislation adopted in the waning days of the General Assembly. 

“This really deals with sexual harassment, discrimination, and equity issues affecting every worker in the state of Illinois,’’ said  Democratic state Senator Melinda Bush of Grayslake, who is sponsor of the bill, which would protect independent contractors under the Illinois Human Rights Act. “So it is, I would say, probably one of the biggest pieces of civil rights law we’ve had in years.”

The law requires workplaces with even just one employee to have training at least once a year. It would be produced by the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Jay Shattuck with the  the Illinois Chamber of Commerce said the group would have to make sure small-business owners knew the expectations of the measure.

The state began requiring sexual harassment training for members of the General Assembly in 2017 after the #Me-Too movement spread to the legislature.

Meanwhile, Hotels and casinos in Illinois would have to equip employees with panic buttons under expansive sexual harassment legislation approved by the General Assembly.

The bill calls for a panic button – or some other safety device — to be available in guest rooms, restrooms or on casino floors.

It also requires Illinois businesses to adopt sexual harassment and anti-discrimination policies.

Shattuck says the chamber followed the lead of the hotel/motel industry in being neutral on the final version of the legislation.

“Overall, I think, it's a good bill. And it was a demonstration where when the General Assembly sits down in a bipartisan way with business and industry, we can get things worked out.”

The bill also aims to prevent policies that could require victims to remain silent about harassment — like non-disclosure agreements and arbitration clauses.

If signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, the legislation on would take effect next year on July 1st.

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