Chicago to Enforce Stronger Sexual Harassment Regulations

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Chicago City Hall

As of July 1, 2022, Chicago employers and businesses licensed to perform work in the city will be subject to the City of Chicago’s expanded sexual harassment regulations. The new rules affect deadlines for filing a charge, financial penalties for offending employers, and workplace training requirements.

Previously, eligible employees had to file a sexual harassment claim with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) within 300 days. This is the same amount of time allotted for charges filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Chicago has now extended this deadline to 365 days, potentially providing an alternative if an employee has missed the 300-day deadline but would still like to file a charge.

The expanded rules also increase the applicable penalties that employers face for violations of the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance (CHRO), from a minimum of $1,000 per occurrence to a minimum of $5,000 per occurrence. The maximum penalty per occurrence was also increased, from $5,000 to $10,000.

Further, employers subject to the CHRO are required to provide a sexual harassment policy to employees within one week of hiring. The ordinance also broadens the requirements for sexual harassment training provided by Chicago employers. Employers must provide employees with one hour of sexual harassment training and one hour of bystander training annually. Supervisors are required to complete two hours of sexual harassment training plus one hour of bystander training.

The new rules are generally positive for employees. However, these recent amendments did not remove the CCHR’s ability to impose penalties against employees who file claims that are “clearly frivolous, clearly vexatious, or brought primarily for purposes of harassment . . .” City of Chicago Ordinance 2-120-511. As always, a filing party should ensure their charge is accurate and truthful, and brought in good faith.

These amendments to the ordinance demonstrate that the City of Chicago is taking a more stringent approach to addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers should contact their employment law attorneys to be certain they comply with the numerous notice and record-keeping requirements imposed by the amendments. Contact our office to learn more about the ordinance and our sexual harassment training program.