The Illinois Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention has released a report with its findings and proposals for addressing sexual harassment in the state and new bills have been introduced to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Mark Grant, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Business in Illinois, said proposed legislation like House Bill 3528, which states a business would be required to have employees provide written consent for any kind of touch between two people that went beyond a handshake, is concerning.
“I don’t know if a fist bump or bumping elbows or something worse is in mind with that, but I think with some of these things, you kind of want to look at them and see how far they go,” Grant said.
Grant said small businesses want to follow all rules and regulations and have a vested interest in preventing harassment in the workplace, but the manner in which new bills are enacted is important.
“How can we make sure the small business folks out there running their businesses can comply with this without any problems, and are we being fair to them?” Grant said.
Grant said there are other measures that merit further consideration.
“Senate Bill 1877 would make sure workers in a workplace would have different representation in a sexual harassment meeting so that both sides are looked at evenly,” Grant said.
There were 2,095 charges of sexual harassment against private employers, according to the Illinois Department of Human Rights’ 2017 Annual Report, which the task force’s report cited.
Grant said all businesses should have an employee handbook with sexual harassment rules and that all employers should want their employees to feel safe in the workplace.
“I think that’s where a lot of the bills are trying to head to,” Grant said. “They’re trying to make this better than what it has been in the past.”