Illinois Gender Violence Act Amendments To Clarify Employers’ Responsibility For Gender-Related Violence, Underscore Risk For Ignoring Workplace Violence

The Illinois Gender Violence Act imposes liabilities against “persons” who commit gender-related violence; that much is clear.  But, as we previously reported, what remains unclear for Illinois employers is whether a “person” can include an employer, and under what circumstances.   Earlier this month, proposed amendments to the IGVA passed the Illinois House that, if signed into law, will bring needed clarity to these questions.   

Under what conditions will employers be considered liable for gender-related workplace violence?

The current draft amendments, if passed, would make clear that employers would only be liable for gender related violence committed in the “work environment” by an employee or agent of the employer, and only if either:

  • the employer failed to supervise, train or monitor the employee who engaged in the gender-related violence; or
  • the employer failed to investigate complaints or reports directly provided to a supervisor, manager, owner, or another person designated by the employer of similar conduct by an employee or agent of the employer and the employer failed to take remedial measures in response to the complaints or reports.   

How is work environment defined by the amendments?

The proposed amendments define “work environment” as the “employee’s workplace and the employer’s premises, including any building, real property, and parking area under the control of the employer, or any other location while used for an employer-sanctioned purpose.”   

What can my workplace do to prevent gender related workplace violence and keep all employees safe?

These proposed amendments may change as they work through the Illinois Senate.  Whether or not these amendments pass, this effort serves as an important reminder to employers to monitor their workers (and those who come in contact with them) for individuals with violent propensities, and to take all reasonable steps to protect their workforce from harm from such persons by:

  • enacting and enforcing zero-tolerance policies for violence and workplace bullying
  • conducting anti-bullying and harassment prevention training
  •  investigating and responding to harassment complaints as soon as they arise 

How can my organization get help with this issue?

Are you an Illinois employer in need of help with training, policy development or investigation services?  Schedule time here to talk to us about how we can help. 

Where do I learn more about the amendments? Interested readers may track the status of bill here.  

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Gary Savine is an Illinois employment lawyer and founder of Savine Employment Law, Ltd. in Chicago. Gary regularly advises human resources professionals on recently enacted employment laws.

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