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Illinois State Legislators Approve Several Bills Targeting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Girl covers her face with hand with hashtag metoo against sexual harassment

The Illinois General Assembly has passed several bills in its most recent session that will now head to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for approval. The potential new laws are coming in the wake of an overwhelming number of harassment complaints landing on the desks of human resource departments all over the state. Read on to learn about the new Illinois sexual harassment laws and the effect of the #MeToo movement on state corporations. Contact a skilled Chicagoland employment law attorney with any additional questions.

New laws would increase visibility of sexual harassment complaints and severance agreements

Two of the new bills specifically target sexual harassment or sexual discrimination allegations leveled at employees of local government, school districts, community college districts, or other local taxing bodies. If signed by Gov. Rauner, House Bill 4242 would mandate that information concerning any severance agreements entered into by these units of local government be published within 72 hours of approval. The information disclosed must include the name and title of the recipient of severance, the amount of the payment and a statement that the person committed act(s) of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination. A related bill, House Bill 4243, would prevent taxpayer dollars from being spent when attempting to secure the silence of a victim of sexual harassment committed by an elected official.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 405 would create a law requiring all corporations that do business with the State of Illinois to have sexual harassment policies in place. Businesses that claim EDGE tax credits would also need to send a sexual harassment report to the state each year.

Tidal wave of sexual harassment complaints swamps HR departments

The #MeToo movement has resulted in a great deal more attention being paid to the amount of sexual harassment being committed in the workplace, and Illinois businesses have not been immune. The CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, Johnny Taylor, spoke with NPR about the massive increase in sexual harassment complaints facing HR departments in recent months. “It created this HR level of activity like nothing we’ve ever seen,” he explained. He also noted that, while many complaints start by focusing on workplace harassment, they evolve into complaints about pay equity or retaliation.

Human resource departments feeling overwhelmed by sexual harassment complaints are advised, now more than ever, to reach out to skilled Illinois employment law attorneys for guidance in handling these issues appropriately.

If you work for an Illinois business facing a complex sexual harassment case or other worker complaint, contact the seasoned, effective, and knowledgeable Chicago area employment lawyers Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee, LTD., in Hoffman Estates at 847-310-0025, or in Des Plaines at 847-298-5030.

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