Victims of sexual harassment and discrimination will have better legal protections thanks to a new law co-sponsored by Senator Jil Tracy and signed August 9 by Governor J.B. Pritzker.
Senate Bill 75 is the result of public hearings and study by the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention, which Senator Tracy co-chaired.
“Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated in the workplace – public or private. Increasing awareness and publicity surrounding harassment and assault cases clearly demonstrated the need for preventive measures, effective regulation and possible criminal charges for offenders,” Senator Tracy said. “The Task Force conducted a thorough review of the legal consequences of harassment and discrimination in workplaces, educational institutions, and state and local governments.”
In February, the bipartisan Task Force reported its recommendations to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, protect hotel and casino employees from sexual harassment by guests, and update government ethics laws.
The new law, which includes those recommendations and other ideas proposed by lawmakers this spring, does the following:
- Prohibits unions from assigning the same union representative to a victim and their alleged harasser in disciplinary proceedings.
- Limits the use of non-disclosure clauses, which could restrict an employee’s ability to report sexual discrimination or harassment.
- Updates the Human Rights Act to better protect employees and improve reporting.
- Expands the Victims Economic Safety Act to offer protections for victims of gender violence.
- Creates new protections for hotel and casino employees.
- Requires state officials, employees, and lobbyists to take sexual harassment and discrimination prevention training.
- Speeds up the process by which Inspectors General file complaints with appropriate ethics commissions.
- Creates a Complainant’s Bill of Rights for investigation in the Executive and Legislative branches of state government.
- Requires other state governmental units to update ordinances for sexual harassment complaints between elected officials.
The Task Force’s membership included State Senators, representatives from statewide women’s rights and civil rights associations, and local government officials and attorneys.