SPRINGFIELD – To help provide a safe and constructive environment for all individuals in the workplace, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, introduced legislation to create policies to address workplace harassment in the private-sector.
“For too long, women, minorities and others facing a higher risk of being harassed or abused in the workplace have had too few options for recourse,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “As many brave victims across the country have come forward in recent years, there is increased awareness and demand for accountability. Meaningful change will require policies and practices that go beyond strict legal prohibitions. We must investigate ways in which we can encourage a culture of respect so we can continue to advance the ideal of equality and true agency.”
House Bill 905 creates the Private Sector Workplace Anti-Harassment Task Force. The task force will develop model policies and practices to create workplaces that are safe from harassment. It will address a wide range of workplace harassment-related issues, including methods for anonymous reporting, protection from retaliation, developing employee trainings, and empowering human resource departments. It will particularly focus on groups that are historically and statistically more vulnerable to harassment for reasons such as race, sexual orientation, immigration status and service industry work, among others.
“In a state that values fair treatment and tolerance, the #MeToo movement challenged us to ask ourselves if we have been actively doing our part to end a culture of harassment and discrimination,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “This bill is a step towards making sure the rules of the game truly create an equal playing field for those groups who have historically faced additional obstacles in the pursuit of happiness.”