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When Your Remote Workers Are Everywhere, You Need to Be Compliant with Laws Everywhere

In April of 2022, the city of Chicago implemented significant enhancements to its sexual harassment law, introducing annual training requirements for employers. While this may have initially gone unnoticed by many employers based outside of Chicago, the rise of remote work has made it crucial for businesses to be aware of and compliant with local laws, regardless of their physical location.

How Do These New Laws Impact Texas Businesses with Remote Workers in Chicago?

The Chicago law has several provisions that are applicable to Texas companies with employees working remotely in the city. 

Expanded Training Obligations

Chicago takes a broad approach in determining which workers are covered by the annual sexual harassment training requirements. This includes remote employees who work in Chicago either full-time or part-time. 

Even employees on hybrid schedules, working remotely in Chicago only one day a week, are subject to Chicago-compliant training. Additionally, managers or supervisors of covered employees must also receive annual training, regardless of whether they physically work in Chicago.

Beyond State Requirements

Employers in Illinois, but outside of Chicago, may assume they are meeting training obligations by complying with state requirements. However, it's essential to recognize that Chicago mandates more comprehensive training than the state. 

While both Illinois and Chicago require annual sexual harassment training, Chicago requires a minimum of one hour per year for all employees, along with an additional hour for supervisors and managers. Moreover, Chicago mandates one hour of bystander intervention training for all employees, which the state does not require.

Detailed Policy Requirements

In addition to stringent training requirements, Chicago also imposes specific requirements for sexual harassment policies. Covered employers must ensure their policies are more detailed than standard anti-harassment policies. 

Specifically, policies must clearly state the illegality of sexual harassment and retaliation in Chicago, provide definitions with examples, outline the annual training requirement, and offer detailed procedures for reporting sexual harassment, including how employees can lodge complaints with government agencies.

Penalties for Non-Compliance
Violating Chicago's anti-harassment law can lead to fines and other penalties.

It’s Not Just Businesses with Workers in Chicago Who Need to Worry

Chicago is not alone in enacting legislation aimed at companies with remote workers in its jurisdiction. In California, many cities have requirements in addition to the state’s more involved regulatory environment.

Regardless of the employee’s location, employers are legally responsible for knowing and applying the relevant laws. For example, it might surprise some of you that the city of Austin has a paid sick leave law that applies to all private employers within the city.

Want to avoid running afoul of local laws – no matter what jurisdictions your employees are telecommuting from? The Lynch Law Firm can analyze your company’s potential liabilities and create systems and policies to protect your business – both retroactively and prospectively.