There is little doubt that there is more work to be done to make workplaces safer for all employees. The Illinois Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention is determined to do its share of that work.
Last year, the group helped 12 bills become Illinois law. The most important of that dozen, according to Chicago’s Sen. Bill Cunningham is the legislation that allows a victim of workplace sexual misconduct to take their complaint directly to the legislative inspector general – there is now no need for the inspector general to get legislator approval to launch an investigation.
“Task forces many times meet, and many times there isn’t a lot of actual legislation that comes out and is signed into law,” said Sen. Melinda Bush, co-chair of the Senate’s task force. “We’re really proud of the work that has been done here.”
The group recently released a report on their work so far, which includes new legislation that requires lawmakers, state employees and lobbyists to get sexual harassment training. Other laws enacted last year include an extension of the statute of limitations for sexual misconduct, as well as a law expanding the rights of assault victims at medical facilities.
Another law enacted by Illinois requires taxing bodies to notify the public when one of the body’s employees is fired for sexual discrimination or harassment.
The task force’s report states that there were 3,201 discrimination complaints filed with the state’s Department of Human Rights in 2017 (the most recent year for which figures are available). An additional 403 harassment complaints were filed as well.
The task force noted that most of those charges were filed by employees in the private sector.
If you have been subjected to unlawful sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation or other misconduct, contact an attorney experienced in employment law litigation.