New Sexual Harassment Legislation on Illinois Horizon

Illinois lawmakers are returning to session this week, and news laws related to sexual harassment are on the agenda. Since the #metoo movement began about one year ago, the House and Senate have been holding hearings to determine what measures can be taken to curb sexual harassment in the workplace. The legislature has not yet identified what laws will be enacted, but we will keep you posted as they are proposed and enacted.

Now is a good time to review the Illinois laws that are meant to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) makes sexual harassment illegal. There are different forms of sexual harassment, such as inappropriate physical interactions and comments, The IHRA defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
  3. 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.

The sexual harassment provisions of the IHRA apply to ALL employers. This is extremely important because some laws (like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act) only apply to employers with a minimum number of employees. Any sexual harassment of an employee’s manager or supervisor is imputed to the company. However, if the sexual harassment is committed by anyone else (including a non-employee), the employer must become aware of the conduct and fail to take reasonable corrective measures.

If you are being sexually harassed at work, contact us immediately. There are very short time limitations for bringing claims under the IHRA and related statutes.