The public exposure of a capitol culture rife with groping, lewd jokes and other forms of sexual harassment has legislation intended to help eliminate the behavior on the fast track.
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A hearing on House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposal (Senate Bill 402, House Amendment 2) is scheduled for a hearing in Chicago next Tuesday, just one week after it was introduced in the wake of an open letter from women in Illinois politics that garnered widespread public and media attention.
Madigan’s legislation would require every lawmaker and state employee to undergo annual sexual harassment training. Registered lobbyists would also have to complete a sexual harassment training program provided or approved by the secretary of state, and provide proof their entity or organization has a policy that defines sexual harassment and includes an internal process for reviewing complaints and issuing penalties as well as protections for the accuser against retaliation.
The measure may well have consequences outside the statehouse dome.
A provision states that “each governmental entity” must adopt a prohibition on sexual harassment, complete with a policy for reporting allegations and disciplinary actions for any violations.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says that language is intended to cover all units of government, not just state agencies, meaning municipalities, school boards and even local library or mosquito abatement districts.
Illinois statute defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.”
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Oct. 25: Are we seeing a societal sea change when it comes to sexual harassment?
Oct. 24: An open letter details sexual harassment in state political circles as lawmakers return to Springfield for the fall veto session.
Oct. 19: Evanston Police say they have fielded dozens of calls in the last week regarding allegations of sexual harassment and abuse levied against a former high school acting teacher.