SPRINGFIELD – Continuing her efforts to combat workplace harassment, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, introduced a package of bills to create an improved reporting process.
“Part of creating a safe working environment for all individuals is making sure we have a clear and reasonable reporting process that encourages people to speak up,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “We must enact laws to ensure that allegations are taken seriously and that a respectful and safe working place is a priority to employers.”
Gong-Gershowitz’s package of bills make a number of improvements to the reporting process. House Bill 2061 extends the statute of limitations for civil rights violations, such as discrimination based on sex or race, from under one year to three years. This is to take into account that it is often difficult for survivors to bring allegations forward immediately, as they themselves need to process the incident.
House Bill 2062 creates the Freedom to Disclose Act which prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent the employee from discussing work-related sexual harassment or sexual violence. The act also stipulates that any such agreement is void.
House Bill 2063 directs employers with 50 or more employees to retain their records of sexual harassment employee complaints for a minimum of 10 years after the date it was received. It is important that such records are kept so employers can track repeated poor or dangerous behavior of individuals.
“If we want to empower victims to speak up for themselves, we cannot allow employers to proactively silence their employees or destroy records of complaints,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “We must demonstrate that we are serious about addressing workplace harassment by setting basic guidelines for reporting. These bills are a step in that direction.”
Gong-Gershowitz represents the 17th House District which includes portions of Evanston, Glenview, Northbrook, Skokie and Wilmette.