The Chicago Commission on Human Relations ( CCHR ) has slapped the Chicago Transit Authority with fines related to a failure to provide employees sexual orientation training, among other things. The training has been overdue since November, following a 2010 sexual orientation harassment suit that CTA lost.
In a March 16 order, CCHR found that CTA had failed to provide the mandated trainings to management staff and had confused the meaning of "sexual orientation" with "sexual harassment."
In 2005, a CTA worker sued CTA, alleging that his supervisors had harassed him for being gay and that CTA had failed intervene. The employee, whose identity has been published with the pseudonym Richard Roe, won the case in 2010. As a result, CCHR ruled that CTA was required to train every one of its employees in sexual orientation harassment, starting with its managers. The ruling gave CTA six months to train its managers and one year to train all employees.
According to CCHR, however, CTA has failed to complete the first round of trainings. As a result, CCHR referred the case to the City of Chicago Department of Law and fined CTA.
Jacob Meister, an LGBT attorney who represented Roe, said that CTA had been "non-responsive" on the ruling.
Meister said that he offered resources to CTA, including at-cost trainings with The Civil Rights Agenda, which Meister founded. He said CTA declined the offer and opted to work on materials independently.
"They have just been very resistant across the board to diversity training," he said.
According to CCHR documents, CTA was to file a report on its trainings in December 2011.
CTA, however, argued that it had calculated a different deadline and therefore did not intend to file proof of the trainings until July.
The reasoning came from a request that Roe had filed earlier to have his name scrubbed from public documents on the case. To protect his privacy, Roe requested that CTA and CCHR agree to replace his name with a pseudonym. The parties agreed, and the protective order went into effect in November 2011.
Because CTA was given six months from the conclusion of the case to complete the first round of trainings and another month to file its report, CTA argued, the deadline was in fact July.
But CCHR slammed this logic in its 10-page order, stating that the deadline was clearly seven months after the conclusion of the ruling, not Roe's request to partially seal the case.
The order stated that: "there is no reasonable basis for CTA to have believed that the injunctive order was not in effect as of May 9, 2011. Nor is there any reason CTA should have believed that the later filing or granting of the motion to partially seal the record from public access had any tolling effect on the compliance deadlines established in the Final Order and Ruling on Liability and Relief entered October 20, 2010."
According to the order, CTA also failed to differentiate between "sexual harassment" training and "sexual orientation" training, reporting that its management-level staff had received sexual harassment training. CCHR called it "troubling that the document does not even correctly identify the subject-matter focus of the mandated training."
CCHR fined CTA $100 for failing to file the report and additional $500 for failing to pay out a past fine violation. It also fined Angela Crumpton, Roe's former supervisor, $250 for failing to pay her overdue fine from the case.
CTA has until May 9 to complete the trainings, a deadline originally set for all staff, managers included. CTA is permitted to seek a short extension with reasonable cause, the order said.
CTA said it is complying and is on track to meet the deadline.
"CTA is committed to a workplace free of harassment," Lambrini Lukidis, a spokesperson from CTA, wrote to Windy City Times. "Per the CCHR's order, on March 30 the CTA filed with the CCHR a compliance report setting forth steps CTA has taken to date to comply with the requirement that all employees receive training on sexual orientation harassment ( including a list of training scripts and other materials used for the filming of the training video ) . CTA is committed to meeting the deadlines set by the CCHR."
Meister said he too is hopeful that the trainings will be completed. He said he believes CTA is taking the order seriously.