If passed by the House, strict employer requirements will be imposed to protect employees and independent contractors from sexual harassment
On April 11, 2019, the Illinois Senate unanimously passed [56-0] a broad scoped sexual harassment bill, SB 1829 that addresses the following topics.
• Requires employers, labor unions, and local governments to disclose the number of sexual harassment and discrimination settlements or actions against them to the Department of Human Rights.
• Mandates annual interactive sexual harassment training for employees. The Department of Human Rights would create a sexual harassment training program which would be made available to all employers. Employers could use the Department’s program or create their own that equals or exceeds the minimum standards in the model.
• Bans the use of non-disclosure agreements, arbitration clauses and non-disparagement clauses for any case involving harassment, discrimination or retaliation.
• Provides independent contractors with protection against harassment.
• Increases protection for employees who are perceived to be part of a protected class, such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., even if they are not actually a protected class member.
• Imposes hefty penalties on employers who fail to report sexual harassment data or comply with the training requirements.
• Expands the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) to include victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment victims will be allowed to take unpaid leave from work to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance.
• Prevents union representatives from representing both a victim of sexual harassment and the alleged harasser in a disciplinary setting.
Since both the House and Senate have been outspoken about creating an all-encompassing bill to address the issues of the #MeToo movement, it is expected that the bill will also pass the House when it moves for consideration next month.