Illinois has taken a strong stance against sexual harassment amid the numerous allegations of sexual harassment, both locally and nationally.  Beginning on January 1, 2018, Illinois lobbyist and lobbying entities must comply with new sexual harassment compliance rules.  Public Act 100-554 which amends multiple statutes including the Lobbyist Registration Act, 25 ILCS 170, now requires all lobbying entities to have a sexual harassment policy and all lobbyists to undergo sexual harassment training annually.

Under the Act, all lobbying entities must have a written sexual harassment policy in place by January 1, 2018.  The policy must address the prevention, prohibition, and investigation of sexual harassment complaints and a prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment allegations complaints.  The policy must also include the procedures for reporting allegations of sexual harassment, and the consequences for committing sexual harassment or retaliation against a complainant. The Act further requires that all lobbyists be provided with a copy of the sexual harassment policy, and that each lobbyist sign an acknowledgement of receipt form. Lobbying entities must have a designated agent to receive allegations of harassment and such agent must be trained to handle complaints and respond accordingly. Click Here To Access A Sexual Harassment Policy That Complies With The New Requirements.

Previously, only Legislative Inspector General could investigate misconduct.  Now, the Secretary of State Inspector General is authorized to investigate complaints and the State Executive Commission is charged with enforcing compliance regulations. Violations with regard to sexual harassment are subject to the jurisdiction of the Executive Ethics Commission and are subject to the penalties of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

Although Tristan & Cervantes advises all clients to take proactive steps in preventing sexual harassment, taking action is more important now in light of the new regulations taking affect in just a few days. All employers, not just lobbyists, face new requirements and have only a short time to comply.  All lobbying entities and lobbyists must take action to ensure that they are in compliance with new policy, training, and certification requirements.  Lobbying Entities should review their sexual harassment policies to ensure that they comply with the new criteria provided by the Act. If a lobbying entity does not have a written policy, they must institute one before January 1, 2018.

For years, Tristan & Cervantes has assisted its clients in drafting effective policies within employee handbooks and has provided training to client’s management personnel in handling employee complaints. Employees and management-level employees should receive training regarding the laws pertaining to harassment and employer policies relating to such conduct.  Tristan & Cervantes will be conducting a 30 minute lunch and learn sexual harassment training specifically for lobbyists and lobbying entities on January 22, 2018 (details to follow).  In the meantime, please contact our office if you or your organization has questions related to your employment policies or training via email at info@tristancervantes.com or call us at 312.345.9200.