Illinois Sexual Harassment Training Law Update

 
Thursday, November 7, 2019
 

On August 9th Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB0075, Public Act 101-0221, creating new protections for employees and contractors and rules for employers regarding sexual harassment. 

Bullets

  1. The new law amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to require all employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.
  2. Restaurants and Bars have additional specific requirements.
  3. Hotel and Casino employers must provide employees who work alone with a notification device that will alert someone for help if the employee is in danger of being sexually assaulted or harassed.

The new law not only prohibits agreements to arbitrate claims involving discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment, but also changes sexual harassment reporting and training requirements, and impacts how union representation is handled during the course of events related to claims of sexual harassment.            

Training

The new law amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to require all employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. The training must include:

  1. an explanation of sexual harassment;
  2. examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  3. a summary of relevant state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment and the remedies for violations of these laws; and
  4. 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.  The amendment does not set a date by which the department is to post its training, and does not make clear whether the training program to be created by the IDHR will be a complete video or web-based training module.

Extra Training for Restaurants and Bars

For restaurants and bars, the amendment requires the department to create a supplemental training program that includes the following; conduct, activities, and/or videos related specifically to the restaurant and bar industries; an explanation of manager liability and responsibility under the law; and English and Spanish options. All restaurant and bar employers must provide this supplemental training by either using the Department’s model or their own program that meets or exceeds the model.

Restaurant and bar employers will now also be required to provide a written sexual harassment policy to all new employees during the first calendar week of their employment. The policy must be provided in both English and Spanish. The policy must include:

  1. a prohibition against sexual harassment;
  2. a definition of sexual harassment;
  3. a description of sexual harassment;
  4. the internal complaint process and penalties for violations;
  5. an explanation of the legal recourse available to employees for violation of the policy, including directions on how to contact the Department or the Illinois Human Rights Commission; and
  6. protection against retaliation.

Employers that fail to follow the new reporting and training requirements will be subject to civil penalties imposed by the Department of Human Rights.

Workplace Transparency Act

This Act prohibits any “contract, agreement, clause, covenant, waiver, or other document” from restricting an employee from reporting allegations of unlawful conduct to federal, state, or local officials for investigation. The WTA does not apply to collective bargaining agreements covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act

The law also creates the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act. Employers in affected industries must provide employees who work alone with a notification device that will alert someone for help if the employee is in danger of being sexually assaulted or harassed. The device must be provided to the employee at no cost. Also, hotels and casinos must develop written, anti-sexual-harassment policies that protect employees against sexual assault and harassment by patrons.

Reporting

Beginning July 1, 2020, and every July 1 thereafter, an employer that has had at least one adverse judgment or ruling against it in the preceding calendar year must disclose to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (Department) the total number of final, non-appealable judgments or final, non-appealable administrative rulings entered against the employer in which there was a finding of sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination.

When the employer reports the adverse judgment or administrative ruling, the employer must also indicate whether any equitable relief was ordered against the employer in any of those final judgments, and provide a breakdown of the number of final judgments that were entered in cases involving:

  1. sexual harassment;
  2. discrimination / harassment on the basis of sex;
  3. discrimination / harassment on the basis of race, color, or national origin;
  4. discrimination / harassment on the basis of religion;
  5. discrimination / harassment on the basis of age;
  6. discrimination / harassment on the basis of a disability;
  7. discrimination / harassment on the basis of military status;
  8. discrimination / harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  9. discrimination / harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic.

These statistics provided to the Department of Human Rights will remain confidential and are not privy to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

The agency has not set a date of when they will post the training and they also do not make it clear whether the training program 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. 

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