SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Acting on the concerns brought forward by more than 130 female legislators, lobbyists, attorneys and directors of nonprofit groups who have spoken out against sexual harassment in the State Capitol, state Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen, helped pass a package of legislative measures this week to crack down on sexual harassment, ensure offenders are held accountable, and take steps to continue combating workplace discrimination and harassment in both the public and private sector.
“I am standing with brave women across the country who have come forward and said ‘me too,’” Burke said. “Sexual harassment and discrimination have no place in our society and I am committed to fighting to stop the mistreatment of women in all workplaces, particularly in our Capitol.”
Burke supported Senate Bill 402, which will require every legislator, staffer and lobbyist to complete an annual sexual harassment training program. Lobbyist businesses will also be required to create and enforce their own internal sexual harassment policies, similar to what legislative staffs are already required to have in place. Additionally, Burke sponsored House Joint Resolution 83, which calls on individuals involved in Illinois politics to reject harassment and work to put an end to it.
Acting to empower the new legislative inspector general who will be charged with investigating allegations of harassment and other violations, Burke stood with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and passed House Bill 137, which allows complete investigations of all complaints pending with the inspector general’s office, despite a one-year statute of limitations.
Burke is also backing efforts to create a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in both the public and private sector and make recommendations to the General Assembly to combat this behavior.
“For too long, we have had a culture where many women have been treated like second-class citizens in the workplace, and that must stop,” Burke said. “However, legislation alone will not end sexual harassment. It will take each and every one of us speaking up and saying ‘no more.’ I hope residents will join me in refusing to turn a blind eye to unacceptable behavior, and thinking about what they can each do to treat one another better.”