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Bill advances to protect rights of employees in sexual harassment cases

Employees who experience sexual harassment or discrimination in their workplace have new rights under legislation cosponsored by state Sen. Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon.

crowe rachel audA measure has passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and is being sent to the governor.

“Men and women have the right to speak out against inappropriate behaviors at work without fear of consequences or losing their job,” Crowe said. “These acts cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The initiative creates the Work Place Transparency Act to protect an employee’s rights if they experience sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace.

The measure also includes major reforms to the state’s ethics investigation process, including making the process more transparent and giving additional rights to victims of harassment and discrimination who file ethics complaints.

Senate Bill 75 also:

• Limits the use of contract provisions intended to prevent an employee from reporting sexual harassment, such as non-disclosure agreements, arbitration clauses and non-disparagement clauses for cases involving harassment, discrimination and retaliation
• Makes harassment against contract employees illegal (currently, these employees do not have legal protection against sexual harassment)
• Clarifies that it is illegal to discriminate against an employee if they are perceived to be part of a protected class (i.e. gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity), even if they are not
• Allows victims of gender-related violence to take unpaid leave from work to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning and other assistance
• Prevents a union representative from representing both a victim of sexual harassment and the alleged harasser in a disciplinary proceeding
• Requires hotels and casinos to provide employees who work in isolated spaces with panic buttons for use if they are sexually harassed or assaulted

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