Illinois Now Requires All Employers to Train Employees on Anti-Harassment
By Evan Manning, IIA of IL Government Relations Manager
February 3, 2020 Update - click here. Original article below.
On August 9, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a comprehensive omnibus legislation, SB 75 (P.A. 101-0221) which takes aim at preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The omnibus legislation, whichwent into effect on January 1, 2020, imposes significant new responsibilities on employers.
The new law creates the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA), the Sexual Harassment Victim Representation Act, and the Casino Employee Safety Act and amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA).
While the new law incorporates several requirements on employers the most significant changes for independent agents is the requirement that ALL employers must, at minimum, include:
- an explanation of sexual harassment;
- examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
- a summary of relevant state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment and the remedies for violations of these laws; and
- a summary of the employer’s responsibility to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment.
The amendment requires the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) to create a model training program and make it available online at no cost to employers. The amendment does not set a date by which the IDHR is to post its training, nor does it make clear whether the training program to be created by the IDHR will be a complete video or web-based training module that employers can use “as-is,” or merely a set of training materials that employers will be able to use for their training programs. IIA of IL will keep you updated when more information is made available.
Under the WTA, the law prohibits employers from interfering with employees reporting unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation (jointly referred to as unlawful employment practices under the Act). It addresses many aspects of workplace discrimination and harassment, including limiting non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses, limiting arbitration agreements, mandating sexual harassment training, expanding protection to non-employees (which includes contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants), and requiring annual disclosures. Employers who do not comply with the reporting and training requirements may be subject to monetary penalties.
Key Insights for Employers
- Employers should be prepared to implement the new required training in 2020 and each year thereafter.
- While there are still good reasons to train employees before the new law takes effect on January 1, 2020, it is not clear whether such training will count toward compliance with the law.
- The model training programs to be provided by the IDHR will meet minimum requirements under the law, but employers should strongly consider supplementing that content with additional training as part of a comprehensive initiative to create a respectful working environment.
- In particular, employers should train all managers, supervisors, senior leaders, and governing board members regarding their particular responsibilities for preventing and responding to workplace harassment.