Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in the Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report, in “Chicago Sexual Harassment Policy Requires ‘Bystander’ Training,” by Stephen Joyce.

Following is an excerpt:

A first-in-the nation municipal requirement for Chicago companies to provide separate “bystander” sexual harassment training may set a new standard for other municipalities seeking to improve their rules to combat the misconduct, according to an attorney who specializes in employment law.

The Chicago Commission on Human Rights has begun enforcing a new ordinance that every Chicago employee must receive a dedicated hour of bystander sexual harassment training annually. Employers have until June 30, 2023, to begin providing it.

In training guidance, the commission defined bystander intervention as “safe and positive actions that may be carried out by a person or a group of people to prevent harm or intervene where there is a risk or perceived risk of sexual harassment to another.”

A bystander can be anyone in the workplace who notices incidents where another person may seem uncomfortable or where the employee may determine that an observed action is inappropriate.

New York City in 2019 enacted requirements for sexual harassment prevention training for all employees, including bystander training as a component. Chicago’s ordinance is different because it is “the first jurisdiction requiring a separate component—a full hour of bystander training—for all covered employees,” Epstein Becker & Green PC attorney Nancy Popper said in an interview.

Popper said she’ll be interested to see if other jurisdictions adopt something similar.

Training Requirements

The new ordinance also requires additional training for supervisors, broadens the legal definition of sexual harassment, and generally expands on the statewide Workplace Transparency Act that took effect Jan. 1, 2020, which placed some requirements on Illinois employers to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Under the new ordinance, daily fines for violations range from $5,000 to $10,000, up from $500 to $1,000.

The commission said bystander training should include:

  • Employees recognizing situations of potential sexual harassment,
  • Understanding institutional structures and cultural conditions that facilitate sexual harassment,
  • Overcoming barriers to intervening,
  • Identifying safe and effective intervention options, and
  • Taking action to intervene. …

Popper agreed. “I have seen an uptick in requests from clients that are seeking live, interactive training for their employees,” she said, particularly as people return to offices after working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.