Representative Wallace introduces sexual harassment bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) – Members in the State Capitol could soon be required to be trained on sexual harassment.State Representative Litesa Wallace is working to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and she's starting in the capitol where she says sexual harassment does occur.

“This is not something that women think should be common place and that continues to perpetuate the fallacy that boys will be boys,” said Wallace.

And state representative Litesa Wallace is now taking action. Her proposal in the Illinois House will require legislators, staff and lobbyists to have sexual harassment training.

"Individuals who suffer from it who are on the receiving end of the harassment are empowered enough to know when, where and how to report that type of harassment,” said Wallace.

Wallace says she was inspired to do something after many of her colleagues shared their personal experiences with harassment on social media using the hashtag "me too.”

"Some women that I have interacted with were women who were bold enough to share their stories so I think it’s important,” said Wallace.

And she's not alone. A Senate bill just passed a House committee. That plan also calls for all lawmakers to go through training, and the names of those who don't comply will be published.

"Any person reporting a violation shall not be retaliated against and that such an individual is eligible for whistle blower protection,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says sexual harassment in unacceptable in any workplace, and those who continue to do so would pay a huge price.

"Each ethics commission would have the authority to fine an individual up to $5,000 for a violation of the prohibition on sexual harassment,” said Madigan.

"I think what has to happen now is that people have to be empowered enough to feel that they can report it and that something will be done if it is reported,” said Wallace.

Wallace believes everyone who works in any capacity at the Capitol has either been an attacker, a victim or a witness to sexual harassment. She hopes the push for change will bring a new culture to the Capitol.

Wallace says no matter what happens to her bill or the senate bill, there will be measures put in place to address sexual harassment.