SB75 Requires Additional Training and Transparency From Public Employers
This alert is the fifth installment in our series on SB75, the anti-harassment legislation awaiting approval by Governor Pritzker, applies specifically to public employers and amends the Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act as well as the Lobbyist Registration Act. The amendments require additional training for employees and lobbyists and clarify public employee rights when filing internal complaints with the Inspector General.
Annual Discrimination and Harassment Training Expanded
Employers subject to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act are currently required to provide annual sexual harassment training. When Governor Pritzker signs SB75, these employers will be required to include training on all forms of harassment and unlawful discrimination.
Similarly, the Lobbyist Registration Act will require employees who must register as lobbyists to complete annual harassment and discrimination prevention training.
Clearer Rights for Public Employees Who File Internal Complaints
The amendments to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act also provide public employees who file complaints of discrimination or harassment with either an Executive or Legislative Inspector General with a clearer statement of their rights. Specifically, the complainant is entitled to the following:
- Notice within five business days of the Inspector General’s receipt of the complaint that the complaint was received and including information on the employee’s rights and the Inspector General’s duties as well as the process, rules, and procedures related to the investigation.
- Notice the Inspector General’s decision to open or close an investigation into the complaint and/or whether to refer the complaint to another appropriate agency. This notice must be provided within five business days of the Inspector General’s decision. If the Inspector General determines that public notice of the complaint would interfere with the investigation, the Inspector General may withhold notice to the employee.
- Review of the statements and evidence given to the Inspector General by the employee and any summaries of such statements or evidence.
- Representation by a support person, uninvolved with the investigation, at an interview or meeting between the employee and Inspector General.
- The ability to submit an impact statement to be included with the Inspector General’s summary report.
- To testify at a hearing related to an allegation of harassment and to have representation present at the hearing.
- Review of any public portion of the Inspector General’s summary report at least 5 business days before its release.
- To file a complaint with the appropriate Ethics Commission if the employee’s rights are violated by the Inspector General.
The amendments also provide certain protections for the Inspector Generals’ Offices and Ethics Commissions by requiring a complainant to who receives a copy of the Inspector General’s summary report, in part or in full, to pay administrative fine of up to $5,000 if the complainant discloses the report prior to publication by the Ethics Commission.
Key Points for Public Employers
- Once signed by Governor Pritzker, SB75 will take effect on January 1, 2020.
- Public employers should work with their Franczek attorney to modify their current training program to ensure its compliance with these requirements.