Bill inspired by District 62 harassment claims moves to Senate
Legislation requiring local governments to provide public notice of payouts to those terminated amid sexual harassment claims has advanced to the Illinois Senate after passing the House unanimously.
The bill introduced in January by state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, and state Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, was inspired by the $127,000 severance payment given last November to former Des Plaines Elementary District 62 Superintendent Floyd Williams Jr. The district and Williams parted ways after accusations he sexually harassed female employees.
McSweeney said the bill was amended to tighten up some language, and now contains some exemptions, so it could pass legal muster. The House voted 106-0 in favor; the bill could be considered in the Senate in April.
"I think transparency is absolutely important to make sure the public is aware," McSweeney said. "The overall policy objective is zero tolerance on sexual harassment."
The amended legislation now says any unit of local government, including school districts, must provide public notice within 72 hours of approving a severance agreement with an employee or contractor "found to have engaged" in sexual harassment or discrimination. The original bill required notice if there was a mere accusation.
Under the bill, the government would have to publish on its website and make available to the media the name of the employee, the amount of the payment, that the person was found to have engaged in sexual harassment or discrimination, and when the payment was approved.
Public notice wouldn't be required if there are pending law enforcement, legal or administrative proceedings, or if the disclosure would reveal the identity of the victim or endanger that person, according to the amended bill.