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Summary of Proposed Human Rights Commission Structural and Process Changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act

    June 2, 2018
    1. The House unanimously approved SB 20 sending the measure next to the Governor for his consideration. The measure had been approved by the Senate late last week 47-0.  As has been reported over the past 6 months, the Chamber has been at the forefront of negotiations to advance reform of the Human Rights Act, especially addressing the backlog at the Human Rights Commission. Attached is a summary of SB 20. They will be strongly recommending a signature of the measure by the Governor.
    2. The House just passed SB 904 on a 105-11 vote. The measure now goes to the Senate for concurrence. Our counter proposal to SB 904 has been introduced by Rep. Jeannie Ives as SB 5910 and by Sen. Kyle McCarter as SB 3617.  Also, a significant workers’ compensation amendment to SB 1737 is expected to be filed later today.
    3. An extensive amendment to SB 577 regarding new notice and reporting requirements was filed. Jay was advised by Senate staff that the amendment “as the beginning of a conversation on how best to approach this issue, and any feedback you have for us on the other components of the bill would be invaluable”.  Briefly,  the amendment does the following, the highlighted bullet points are the more problematic ones:

    •           Extends protections against harassment and discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act to independent contractors, who currently have no recourse if they are discriminated against or sexually harassed on the job;

    •            Expands the definition of sexual harassment to make it clear that harassment on the basis of an individual's actual or perceived sex or gender is prohibited;

    •            Gives workers who experience harassment or discrimination two years to file a charge with the Department of Human Rights (currently, 180 days);

    •            Gives workers who file a harassment or discrimination charge with the Department of Human Rights the right to request a notice of right to sue after 180 days (a right they currently have under federal but not state law); (we expect this issue to be broken out and part of a different bill we have been working on as a broader reform of the Human Rights Act)

    •            Requires public contractors and large employers to report annually to the Department of Human Rights on the number of settlements they enter into or adverse judgements against them related to sexual harassment or discrimination, and allows the Department of Human Rights to initiate an investigation of repeat violators;

    •            Requires employers to post notice of an employee’s right to a workplace free from sexual harassment as well as the procedure for filing a charge;

    •            Prohibits nondisclosure clauses in sexual harassment settlement agreements unless it is the victim's choice and limits standard nondisclosure clauses in contracts for low-wage workers;

    •            Allows immediate personal staff of elected public officials to file charges of harassment or discrimination with the Department of Human Rights;

    •            Creates a new category of protective order for victims of sexual harassment;

    •            Expands the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act to cover victims of sexual harassment;

    •            Requires hotels and casinos to provide employees who work in isolated spaces with panic buttons, for use if they are sexually harassed or assaulted.

    •            Prohibits sexual abuse in youth sports and mandates reporting of abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services