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Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, November 20, 2017

Local Governments Must Formally Adopt Sexual Harassment Policies


Last week, the Governor signed into law P.A. 100-0554. The new law requires local governments to take formal action to adopt sexual harassment policies. Within 60 days of the effective date of the new law, each unit of local government must adopt an ordinance or resolution establishing a policy to prohibit sexual harassment. 

The policy must include, at a minimum, the following provisions:

1. A prohibition on sexual harassment.
2. The procedure for reporting an allegation of sexual harassment.
3. A prohibition on retaliation for reporting an allegation of sexual harassment.
4. The consequences for violating the sexual harassment policy and for knowingly making a false report.

While most units of local government probably already have a sexual harassment policy in place, it is important that government entities review existing policies for compliance with the new statutory requirements and take formal action to adopt or ratify the sexual harassment policy by resolution or ordinance. According to the General Assembly's website, the law's effective date is November 16, 2017, meaning that local governments have until January 15, 2018 to adopt an ordinance or resolution approving a policy that complies with the new law.

The new law also contains a number of other regulations relating to sexual harassment, including training requirements for state officials and lobbyists, as well as other regulations. The language pertaining to the new policy requirements for local governments language is set out below:
No later than 60 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 100th General Assembly, each governmental unit shall adopt an ordinance or resolution establishing a policy to prohibit sexual harassment. The policy shall include, at a minimum: (i) a prohibition on sexual harassment; (ii) details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including options for making a confidential report to a supervisor, ethics officer, Inspector General, or the Department of Human Rights; (iii) a prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment allegations, including availability of whistleblower protections under this Act, the Whistleblower Act, and the Illinois Human Rights Act; and (iv) the consequences of a violation of the prohibition on sexual harassment and the consequences for knowingly making a false report.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Monday, November 13, 2017

Reminder to Adopt Annual Schedule of Meetings


A quick reminder to public bodies in Illinois - every public body that is subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act must give public notice of its annual schedule of regular meetings at the beginning of each calendar or fiscal year. Most public bodies tend to adopt the annual schedule of regular meetings for the following year in December, which is just one month away (can you believe it?!). The annual schedule must include the times and places of all regular meetings. 5 ILCS 120/2.03.

Section 2.03 applies to "each body subject to this Act." That means that subsidiary bodies, including committees of the board or council and other advisory boards and commissions, are subject to this requirement. The PAC office of the Illinois Attorney General has taken the position that if a public body does not adopt an annual schedule of regular meetings, then every meeting of that particular public body is considered a "special meeting," so the public body must follow the requirements for special meetings under the OMA.  

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Court Upholds Chicago's Public Nudity Ordinance


The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a woman who sued the City of Chicago after she was cited for public nudity when she participated in GoTopless Day 2014. Tagami v. City of Chicago, (7th Cir. Nov. 8, 2017). 

Ms. Tagami participated in the 2014 event by walking around the streets of Chicago topless. She was cited for violating a Chicago ordinance that prohibits public nudity. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against Chicago, claiming that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it violated her free speech rights under the First Amendment and unlawfully discriminates against her on the basis of her gender. The district court had dismissed her lawsuit, and she appealed to the Seventh Circuit.

First, the Seventh Circuit found that Chicago's ordinance prohibits conduct, not speech. The court acknowledged that some conduct may be protected as "expressive" speech if the conduct conveys its own message without additional speech. Being in a state of nudity, the court held, is not an inherently expressive condition. Even if the conduct was expressive speech, the court determined that the Chicago public nudity ordinance would survive strict scrutiny because its purpose (to promote moral norms and public order) were both self-evident and important.

Second, although the court found that the ordinance does treat men and women differently, the different classifications and treatment under the ordinance did not rise to the level of discrimination, given the inherent physical differences between men and women. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Audio Recordings of Open Meetings Not Exempt Under FOIA


It's been awhile, but the PAC office of the Illinois Attorney General just released its 12th binding opinion for 2017.  In PAC Op. 17-012, the PAC found a public body in violation of FOIA when it denied a request to release audio recordings of meetings of the public body.

A reporter requested, among other records, copies of audio recordings of all board meetings in 2017. The public body denied the request, claiming that the recordings fell under the preliminary records exemption of section 7(1)(f) of FOIA. The reporter appealed the denial of his request for the audio recordings to the PAC. 

The PAC first reviewed section 7(1)(f), finding that it applied only to records "that reflect the give and take of the deliberative process" and not to information that is "already public knowledge." The PAC rejected the public body's argument that the audio recordings were preliminary because they are used in the preparation of the official minutes of the meeting. In support of its opinion, the PAC cited a West Virginia case finding that recordings of meetings were not exempt under a West Virginia FOIA exemption that protects "[i]nternal memoranda or letters received or prepared by any public body." The PAC also noted that FOIA permits a public body to withhold audio recordings of closed sessions, but that the statute does not contain similar language for recordings of open sessions.

In short, the PAC's binding opinion finds that audio recordings of open meetings are not exempt under 7(1)(f) of FOIA. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bill Would Impact Municipal Accounting Methods



On November 7, 2017, the Illinois House Government Transparency Committee will hear testimony on HB 4104.  That bill was introduced to address confusion about acceptable bases for municipal accounting that resulted from letters the Office of the Illinois Comptroller sent to many municipalities in the spring. The Comptroller letters notified municipalities that they would be required to file audits on an accrual basis of accounting. Although cash basis of accounting is currently permitted under Illinois statute, the Comptroller took the position that the cash basis practice of many municipalities was prohibited, and municipalities that using cash basis for their audits would be fined. 

This bill would clarify that both methods of accounting, cash and accrual, are acceptable methods of filing audits that meet generally accepted accounting principles. The bill is on second reading and may be amended prior to being read on the House floor.  We will keep you posted on this bill.

Post Authored by Jessi DeWalt, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bill Would Expand Campaign Disclosure Laws to Cover Social Media


Political campaigns have increasingly used social media as a platform to deliver communications and messages about candidates for elected office to constituents. Perhaps recognizing the impact of these platforms, the Illinois General Assembly recently introduced a bill to amend campaign disclosure laws to expressly reference social media platforms. SB 2251

Section 9-9.5 of the Election Code currently requires political committees to disclose any expenditures the committees make on pamphlets, circular, handbill, Internet or telephone communication, radio, television and print advertisements directed at voters that mention a specific candidate running for office in an upcoming election. That section also requires that the political committee that pays for the ad identify itself in the communication. SB 2251 would amend that disclosure law to expand the disclosure requirements for expenditures on campaign advertisements on "any social media platform." 

The bill was just introduced in the Illinois senate last month. We will keep you posted on the bill as it moves forward.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf