Press Releases

Senator Melinda Bush speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Private sector workers who experience sexual harassment and discrimination will have greater protections under the law thanks to a major piece of legislation from State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) that passed out of the Illinois Senate today.

“This bill gives victims of workplace harassment and discrimination more protections and ensures they are able to seek justice,” Bush said. “We’re not only changing the law—we’re changing the culture. We’re standing with victims and saying enough is enough.”

Senate Bill 75 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.

Bush introduced the measure after hearing from victims, advocates and members of the business community during the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention’s hearings last year. She served as co-chair of the task force.

“Preventing sexual harassment and discrimination and ensuring our workplaces are safe is not only good for workers—it’s good for business,” Bush said. “With these measures in place, workers will have more protections under the law, and employers will be more proactive about educating employees and preventing these situations.”

Senate Bill 75 is an omnibus bill, which:
• 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
• Requires the Department of Human Rights to make a sexual harassment training program available for employers to provide to their employees and a separate sexual harassment training program specifically for restaurants and bars
• Gives victims of sexual harassment, discrimination, or harassment statutory rights regarding investigations by the Executive and Legislative Inspectors General
• Requires state officials, employees, and lobbyists to complete annual training on harassment and discrimination prevention in addition to sexual harassment
• Requires local governments to report and provide an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made against local elected officials

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Category: Press Releases

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