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Governor Signs Law Requiring Public Employers to Adopt Sexual Harassment Policies

On November 16, 2017, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Public Act 100-0554 amending in part the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (“Act”) to prohibit sexual harassment by “[a]ll persons subject to this Act” and to require each unit of local government and school district to adopt an ordinance or resolution establishing a policy to prohibit sexual harassment.  New or amended policies must be adopted no later than 60 days after the effective date of P.A. 100-0554, which results in a deadline of January 15, 2017.

P.A. 100-0554 defines “sexual harassment” as “any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when:  (i) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; (ii) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or (iii) 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.”

In terms of the policy requirements, P.A. 100-0554 states that the policy shall include, at a minimum, the following elements:  (i) a prohibition on sexual harassment; (ii) details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including options for making a confidential report to a supervisor, ethics officer, Inspector General, or the Department of Human Rights; (iii) a prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment allegations, including the availability of whistleblower protections under the Act, the Whistleblower Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act; (iv) the consequences of a violation of the prohibition on sexual harassment; and (v) the consequences for knowingly making a false report.

As you revise your policies to comply with P.A. 100-0554, you should also consider the following best practices and procedures related to policies specifically and harassment generally:

For more guidance regarding this important subject, you may contact your Tressler attorney.