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#Metoo Change is Coming: From the Courtroom into the Boardroom

The #metoo, can be viewed as a disease in business practice.  In its wake, thousands of women have come forward to raise complaints of sexual harassment.  Workplace harassment does not simply remain in the realm of celebrity, its reach is much greater.  People are getting worked up about it and are taking sides.  Statistically speaking, since the movement began, the Legal Defense Fund has received more than 3,500 requests for assistance from workers in more than 60 different industries in all 50 states. Any business anywhere could be targeted for some event that could have happened for a time period prior to the current management in place.

In the past, people have not spoken up because of the fear.  With taking a stance can come the loss of job which leads to a loss of financial security.  The risk was too great.  This had lead to many debates and reconsideration of the way in which business practices transact business and of its operation.

Businesses are looking towards countering that culture.  Getting their name enmeshed in a lawsuit looks like a poor reflection on them from a commercial perspective.  Consumers have that much power.  That is why bystander protections are measures being introduced.  Ensuring policies that already exist in manuals are enforced or stood by are another way of standing firm to the commitment of culture.

Boardroom changes are being made, as when a person peaks inside into a company they first look to see what a Boardroom constituency is.  Who are the type of people? What is the makeup? Do they reflect my values? Having women leaders and other diverse groups are the quickest way to implement change if none exists already.

California has gone so far as to introduce a new law to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 826, which requires publicly held companies based in California to have a minimum of one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. From there, women’s representation will have to increase: By the end of July 2021, companies have to have at least two women on boards of five members and at least three women on boards with six or more. However, for protection laws to be implemented successfully, equal protection needs to be equal.  For that reason, the Chamber of Commerce in California opposes it. The introduction of such a law is too narrow.  The focus is only on gender, not diversity overall.  Race, gender and sexual orientation is what they believe should be the grounds of any change.

Regardless, had these events occurred prior to the movement beginning, this kind of drastic shift would not have even been talked about.  How close will Illinois be to the adoption of such a trend?  The catalyst for change is already out there.  Businesses with greater diversity have a greater share in the stock market. Based on that alone, workplaces in Chicagoland will most certainly review their hiring procedures, corporate manuals, and policy on harassment.  The dynamic is, most certainly, changing if the Boardroom dynamics are also going to have to cater to employment-based hire that will factor in gender and inclusivity as grounds for change and business vision moving forward.  If you have any concerns, please speak with Counsel to discuss the safest way to go about this without any breaches of policy and procedure in place.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/14/perspectives/metoo-anniversary/index.html

https://www.vox.com/2018/10/3/17924014/california-women-corporate-boards-jerry-brown

Our Chicago employment law attorneys have handled many different types of lawsuits involving employment law issues including retaliatory discharge, unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, and sexual and race discrimination cases. Our Chicago area non-compete agreement attorneys have defended high-level executives and professionals, such as doctors, in a covenant not to compete, trade secret lawsuits and discrimination case. A case in which our firm defended a former Motorola executive was covered in Crain’s Chicago Business. You can view that article by clicking here.

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Vincent L. DiTommaso

Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Carol Stream non-compete agreement litigation attorneys have more than three decades of experience helping clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state non-compete and trade secret theft laws. Our Chicago business dispute attorneys also represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners, shareholders, and LLC members as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Elkgrove Village and Naperville, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.