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Sexual Harassment Protection - Chicago Style

The highly questionable activities of Harvey Weinstein and others have caused the City Council of the City of Chicago to make significant changes to its laws in an effort to reduce sexual harassment. As a result of a recent survey of numerous hotels in the Chicagoland Area, which asserts that more than half of the women surveyed were allegedly sexually harassed or assaulted on their job, the Chicago City Council passed an Ordinance with the intent of protecting Hotel Workers.

The new Ordinance, which is a modification of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago, has two primary components, both of which will require Chicago Hotels to take quick actions.

As of October 11, 2017, Chicago Hotels will have sixty (60) calendar days to comply with the Ordinance and adopt reporting policies and practices for sexual harassment. It is a requirement that Chicago Hotels provide to all employees a copy of the Hotel's anti-sexual harassment policy in English, Spanish and Polish and also display copies of the policy in conspicuous places in the area of the Hotel, such as supply rooms or employee lunch rooms. The policies must encourage the reporting of alleged sexual assault and harassment and allow workers to leave the area of perceived danger until security arrives. As well, workers who complain of sexual harassment dealing with a guest must be assigned to work elsewhere during the offending guest's stay. Further, Hotels will have to provide sufficient Paid Time Off to a worker to file a complaint with the police or testify in Court with regard to related proceedings.

As well, as of July 1, 2018, Chicago Hotels must provide "panic buttons" to all employees who work alone in guestrooms or restrooms. According to the Ordinance, the "panic buttons" are defined as "a portable emergency contact device that the involved employee can quickly and easily activate to effectively summon assistance from a Hotel Security Officer, Manager, or other appropriate Hotel Staff Members who are designated by the Hotel to assist the employee" in these difficult situations. A Hotel employee can use the "panic button" if the "employee reasonably believes" that there is an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault or other emergency occurring on their premises. As would be expected, the Hotels must provide the "panic buttons" free of charge to employees.

Chicago Hotels that fail to meet the aforementioned deadlines with regard to the creation of an anti-sexual harassment policy and/or providing of the panic buttons, may suffer major consequences. Hotels could have their operating licenses revoked and be fined between $250 and $500 per day for each offense and each day that a violation continues is a "separate and distinct offense".

To see a copy of the actual Ordinance, go to: Hotel Workers Sexual Harassment Ordinance

Questions? Contact Attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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