Last year, the Chicago City Council amended the City's sexual harassment ordinance for the express purpose of promoting zero tolerance of violence and harassment in the workplace. The amendments, effective July 1, 2022, bolstered the City's commitment to promoting safer workplaces by imposing new training, policy, and posting requirements, record retention obligations, and a broader definition of sexual harassment. The amendments also impose steeper monetary penalties.
In interpreting the amendments, however, the City applied an incorrect definition of "employer." Specifically, under the City's initial guidance, businesses with employees working in Chicago were considered "employers" required to comply with the amended ordinance only if they maintained a physical presence in Chicago and/or were subject to the City's licensing requirements.
Under Chicago's Municipal Code ("Code"), the definition of "employer" applicable to the sexual harassment protections is "any individual, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company, business trust, or any person or group or persons that provides employment to one or more employees in the current or preceding calendar year and any agent of such an entity or person."1
By contrast, the definition of "employer" containing the physical presence and licensing requirement limitations applies exclusively to criminal records and criminal histories sections of the Code – not to the sexual harassment ordinance.2
In recently published guidance, the City corrects its position to clarify that the "requirements of the new sexual harassment protections apply to all employers ... whose employees work in Chicago. The training requirement applies for all employees who work in Chicago, even if remote, and their managers or supervisors, even if the managers or supervisors work outside of Chicago."3
Employers with any employees working in Chicago should review their sexual harassment training and related policies to ensure compliance before the June 30, 2023 training deadline.
1. Municipal Code of Chicago, Section 6-10-020 Definitions.
3. The City's previous guidance incorrectly indicated that the applicable definition of "employer" was limited to businesses with a physical presence in Chicago or that are subject to the City's licensing requirements.
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