In summer 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signed SB 75, creating three new laws and amending others that relate to sexual harassment and discrimination. This article will focus on the sexual harassment training requirement and the harassment and discrimination disclosure requirement that this bill brought to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA).
Sexual Harassment Training Requirement
The sexual harassment training requirements went into effect January 1, 2020 and amended the IHRA to apply to all employers with one or more employees. This applies to all employers with employees working in Illinois, not just employers who are headquartered in or otherwise physically located in Illinois. Short-term, part-time, and interns are all subject to the training requirements.
Beginning on January 1, 2020, all employers must provide sexual harassment training to all Illinois employees at least once per calendar year. While there is no set timeframe in which new employees must be trained, it is recommended to occur as-soon-as-possible, because employers are liable for the sexual harassment conduct of new employees upon their hire. A best practice would be to include harassment training as part of the on-boarding process for new employees. At a minimum, the training must include the following elements:
- An explanation of sexual harassment
- Examples of conduct that constitute unlawful sexual harassment
- An overview of federal and state statutory laws concerning harassment
- Any resources available to victims of sexual harassment
- A summary of the employer’s responsibility in preventing and investigating sexual harassment claims
- An explanation of appropriate corrective measures that may be taken
Employers with restaurants and bars in Illinois will also be required to have a written sexual harassment policy that they provide to its employees within the first calendar week of employment. This policy must be provided in both English and Spanish. Employers in the restaurant and bar industry are also required to provide a supplement training that is aimed at issues that are specific to this industry.
While the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) is tasked with creating model training programs that employers may use to meet these requirements. They have indicated that it will be available as of April 1, 2020. Employers are still obligated to implement a training program that meets the requirements and may face civil penalties from the Department of Human Rights if they fail to do so. Employers are required to maintain a record of all employees who have completed the training. This may be in the form of a certificate, signed employee acknowledgement, or course sign-in sheet and may be paper or electronic.
Harassment and Discrimination Disclosure Requirement
Beginning on July 1, 2020, Illinois employers must disclose any final, non-appealable adverse judgments or rulings for harassment or discrimination against it in the preceding calendar year (entered anywhere in the U.S.) to the IDHR. This report will be broken down into the protected characteristic that the ruling was based on, such as sexual harassment or discrimination/harassment based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, race, age, or any other protected characteristic.
This reporting will be due in July of each year beginning July 1, 2020.
Illinois is not alone in putting forth required sexual harassment training programs. If you have employees based or working in other jurisdictions, please be sure to consider applicable laws in those locations. The training resources available through AssuranceEXP will satisfy the requirements for states outside of Illinois that also mandate sexual harassment training in the workplace.
Getting Started and Next Steps
- Engage your employment attorney to review your policies, training, impact of employees in other states and reporting requirements.
- Plan on how to deliver the training to your employees – AssuranceEXP has resources available to provide this training through a web-based platform. You will have the ability to import your employee list, assign the training via email, track progress and report on completion by employee.
- If you would like to learn more about how to utilize the standard training resources available through AssuranceEXP, please reach out to your Assurance Service Team.
- If your training needs to include customized content, please contact your Assurance Service Team for alternate solutions.