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Illinois Implements Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention for Employers to be Completed by December 31, 2020

April 9, 2020 | Brandy Simpson

Public Act 101-0221, the Workplace Transparency Act, amended the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) and now requires Illinois employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training by December 31, 2020, followed by annual training thereafter. Sexual harassment prevention training is required by any employer with one or more employees and all employees must be trained regardless of full-time, part-time or intern status.

Minimum training standards are outlined in Section 2-109(B) and include:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IHRA;
  • Examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  • A summary of relevant Federal and State statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
  • A summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.

While the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) has developed a model sexual harassment prevention training program to be made available by April 30, 2020, employers are welcome to develop their own sexual harassment prevention training program provided it meets or exceed the minimum standards set forth by the IHRA as set forth in Section 2-109(B) above.

In addition to the training standards outlined in Section 2-109(B), restaurants and bars must also provide employees with supplemental training that meets or exceeds the minimum training standards outlined in Section 2-110 (C) of the IHRA. These minimum supplemental training standards include:

  • Specific conduct, activities, or videos related to the restaurant or bar industry;
  • An explanation of manager liability and responsibility under the law; and
  • English and Spanish language options.

Section 2-110(B) further requires every restaurant and bar to have a sexual harassment prevention policy that includes:           

  • A prohibition on sexual harassment;
  • The definition of sexual harassment under the IHRA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment internally, including options for making a confidential report to a manager, owner, corporate headquarters, human resources department, or other internal reporting mechanism that may be available;
  • An explanation of the internal complaint process available to employees;
  • How to contact and file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) and United States Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”);
  • A prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment allegations; and
  • A requirement that all employee participate in sexual harassment prevention training.

Pursuant to Section 2-110(B), a written copy of the sexual harassment prevention policy must be provided to all employees within the first calendar week of the employee’s employment. The policy must also be made available in English and Spanish.

The deadline for employers to comply with the changes to IHRA is December 31, 2020. However, employers are encouraged to train employees as soon as possible as employers are liable for the sexual harassment conduct of new employees upon their hire.  

Employers are required to keep a record of all trainings which must be made available for IDHR inspection upon request. Failure to comply will result in a notice to show cause giving the employer 30 days to comply. Failure to comply within 30 days will result in IDHR petitioning the Illinois Human Rights Commission for entry of an order imposing a civil penalty against the employer, including a $500 penalty to businesses with less than 4 employees, or a $1,000 penalty to those with more than 4 employees. Subsequent violations can rise to a $5,000 penalty per violation.

Illinois employers should review their current policies to ensure compliance with the recent changes to state law and implement annual training schedules to avoid future fines. 

Additional information regarding these sexual harassment prevention training requirements is available at the Illinois Department of Human Rights website. And if you need assistance or have questions concerning your company’s training program, please get in touch with one of Baker Sterchi’s labor and employment attorneys.


Related Services: Employment & Labor
Attorneys: Brandy Simpson

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The BSCR Illinois Law Blog examines significant developments, trends and changes in Illinois law on a broad range of topics that are of interest to Illinois practitioners and to businesses evaluating risks under Illinois law or managing litigation subject to Illinois law. Learn more about the editor, Lisa Larkin.

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