Illinois House and Senate take a step forward to reform laws in regard to sexual harassment and discrimination

The Illinois House and Senate took a step forward today to pass a series of  revisions in Illinois law that will increase transparency and accountability in our laws that will better help protect employees in the area of discrimination and sexual harassment in Illinois, but there is more work to do.

“These protections are the result of numerous hearings and dozens of hours of testimony from victims and others. We must make changes to ensure that everyone who works at the Capitol in Springfield or in any public service job in Illinois is safe from harassment, intimidation, or unwanted sexual advances,” said State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove), who serves as the minority spokesperson on the Illinois House Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Task Force.

The items included in HB 138 include measures to:
• Make the office of Legislative Inspector General (“LIG”) a full time position and require public posting of the position when there is a vacancy. If the office is vacant for more than 6 months, complaints shall be directed to the Inspector General of the Auditor General.
• Extend the time to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights from 180 days to 300 days.
• Allow the LIG to move forward with an investigation regarding a sexual harassment complaint without higher approval.
• Require the LIG or Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) to report disapproval of an investigation request.
• Create optional comprehensive training for legislators and staff. The training would include such things as sexual harassment, workplace civility and discrimination; and clarify that the LIG and LEC continue to have jurisdiction over former members and staff.
• Ensure political State Central Committees implement a sexual harassment policy.
• Require annual reporting regarding statistics, not specifics from the state sexual harassment helpline.
• Create a House rule to encourage legislators to report incidents of sexual harassment to their respective ethics officers. (HR1165)

A full list of all of the reforms included in the bill can be found here.

“These improvements represent an important first step, but there is much more work to do,” Representative Jimenez said. “Our Task Force will continue to meet throughout the summer to work toward agreements on additional protections.”

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