Sexual Harassment Training Illinois

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On August 9, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 75, the Workplace Transparency Act, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Act requires that all employers in Illinois provide sexual harassment training to all employees, each year, starting in 2020. In addition to requiring annual sexual harassment training, the law makes other major changes to Illinois harassment and discrimination laws. 

In addition to the Workplace Transparency Act, in 2018 Illinois passed Public Act 100-0762, which requires licensed professionals with continuing education requirements to complete at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually, starting in 2020. 

To help companies comply with these new legal requirements in Illinois, Clear Law Institute has provided answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which employers must train employees under the new Illinois Workplace Transparency Act?

All employers with 1 or more employees working in Illinois must provide all employees with sexual harassment training that meets the new training requirements in the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA).

What content must be covered in the sexual harassment training?

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), the training must include all of the following:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment.
  • Examples of conduct constituting unlawful sexual harassment.
  • A summary of federal and state laws concerning harassment and remedies available to victims.
  • A list of employer responsibilities to prevent, investigate, and correct instances of sexual harassment.

When is the training deadline?

The first training deadline is December 31, 2020. Training is then required annually.

Who must be trained?

All employees must be trained, including short-term employees, part-time employees, and interns.

Must independent contractors be trained?

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) strongly recommends that independent contractors receive training, especially if they work on-site or interact with the employer’s staff. However, the new law does not require employers to train independent contractors.

Do I need to retrain employees who have been trained at other companies?

The IDHR encourages employers to train all new employees, even if the employee received training at a prior employer. Employers are required to keep records that show that all employees received sexual harassment training. In addition, employers are responsible for ensuring that the training received is compliant with the IHRA. Most employers find it easier to provide the training again to ensure compliance.

Do employees outside Illinois need to be trained?

Training is required of all employees who work or will work in Illinois. Employees based outside of Illinois who regularly interact with employees in Illinois also should be trained.

Are there additional requirements for restaurants and bars?

Yes, in addition to the mandatory sexual harassment training, restaurant and bars must provide supplemental training specifically aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the restaurant and bar industry. The training must include:

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

What documentation about the training must employers maintain?

Employers must keep records of all training. Upon request, these records must be made available for inspection by the IDHR. The training record may be a certificate of completion, a signed employee acknowledgement, or a course sign-in sheet. Both paper and electronic records are permissible.

How often should employees be trained?

By December 31, 2020, employers must provide all employees with sexual harassment prevention training. Thereafter, the training is required annually. Fulfilling the annual training requirements is based on the calendar year.

When should new employees be trained?

The IDHR encourages employers to train new employees as soon as possible after hire. Employers are liable for the harassing conduct of new employees starting when they are hired. Training must be provided by December 31, 2020 and then annually by December 31.

Must the training be accessible to employees with disabilities?

Yes, employers are required to provide training that is accessible to its employees. If an employee has disabilities or speaks a language other than English, training must be provided to the employee in an accessible manner.

Can I make employees take the training outside of working hours?

Yes, you can have employees take the training outside of working hours. However, employees required to take the training outside of their regular working hours must be paid for their time.

What if I don’t provide the training to my employees?

Failure to provide the training is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). Employers who do not provide compliant training will be subject to civil penalties, including a $500 penalty to businesses with less than 4 employees, or a $1,000 penalty to those with 4 or more employees. Penalties for subsequent violations can rise to $5,000 per violation.

Can employees report employers who are not in compliance?

Yes, employees can report employers for not complying with the sexual harassment prevention training requirements. The Illinois Department of Human Resources (IDHR) allows employees to report their employer anonymously for failure to provide the training via phone or online form.

Must employees with multiple employers take the training at each employer?

No, employees don’t need to take the training more than once a year. Employers should request employees provide proof of completion at another employer. Employers, not employees, are responsible for ensuring that training taken elsewhere complies with the training requirements. If there is a question regarding whether the training is compliant, employers should train the employee again.

Must restaurants and bars have a sexual harassment prevention policy?

Yes, restaurant and bars must establish a written sexual harassment prevention policy, in both English and Spanish. This policy and instructions on how to report sexual harassment incidents must be given to employees within the employee’s first calendar week of employment.

Which licensed professionals must take harassment training under Public Act 100-0762?

Licensed professionals in Illinois with an annual continuing education requirement that are overseen by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Responsibility (IDFPR) must complete at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training annually.

When does the sexual harassment training requirement for licensed professionals go into effect?

Licensed professionals who renew their license with the IDFPR after January 1, 2020 must complete at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training in their continuing education requirements. 

Are the requirements for licensed professionals under Public Act 100-0762 different from the requirements under the Workplace Transparency Act?

Yes, under Public Act 100-0762 sexual harassment prevention training for licensed professionals may only be provided by IDFPR approved continuing education providers. In addition, the training must include content on:

  • What is sexual harassment, including forms and types of sexual harassment;
  • What you should do if you experience or witness unwelcome sexual contact;
  • How to report sexual harassment to your employer and to outside entities, such as the Illinois Department of Human Rights;
  • Whistleblower protections.

Clear Law Institute is an IDFPR approved provider and our course, Positive Workplace: Preventing Harassment at Work, includes all topics required by the IDFPR.

Can an online harassment course be taken to meet the training requirements under Public Act 100-0762 and the Workplace Transparency Act?

Yes, guidance provided by the IDFPR and the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) state that the sexual harassment prevention training may be taken online.

Can licensed professionals take one course to meet the requirements of the Workplace Transparency Act and Public Act 100-0762?

Yes, licensed professionals who take a course from an IDFPR approved provider that also meets the requirements under the Workplace Transparency Act can complete both requirements using one course. Clear Law Institute is an IDFPR approved provider and our course, Positive Workplace: Preventing Harassment at Work, meets all training requirements under the Workplace Transparency Act.

Are attorneys licensed in Illinois required to complete the 1-hour training requirement under Public Act 100-0762?

Currently, attorneys are not required to complete 1-hour of sexual harassment training under Public Act 100-0762. Illinois attorneys’ continuing education is not regulated by the IDFPR but is overseen by the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board of the Supreme Court of Illinois (MCLE Board). Public Act 100-0762 applies only to licensed professionals with continuing education requirements overseen by the IDFPR. However, Illinois attorneys are still required to meet the training requirements under the Workplace Transparency Act. As one of the largest providers of continuing legal education in the country, Clear Law Institute’s course, Positive Workplace: Preventing Harassment at Work, can be taken for CLE credit in Illinois and meets the Workplace Transparency Act requirements.

Other Provisions of the Workplace Transparency Act

In addition to the training requirements discussed above, the Workplace Transparency Act makes the following changes:

  • Independent contractors. SB 75 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect not just employees but also independent contractors from harassment and discrimination.
  • Disclosures. The new law requires employers, labor organizations, and local governments to disclose to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) the total number of final adverse administrative or judicial decisions involving sexual harassment or discrimination in the previous year entered anywhere in the U.S. Employers must make the disclosure beginning July 1, 2020 and each July 1 thereafter. Employers may also be required by the IDHR to disclose during an investigation the total number of settlements involving sexual harassment and discrimination claims entered into during the previous five years anywhere in the U.S.
  • Non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, and mandatory arbitration agreements. SB 75 places significant restrictions on the use of these types of agreements for cases involving harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.
  • Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA). The law expands VESSA to allow victims of domestic, sexual, or gender violence to take unpaid leave to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance without penalty, if requested. A victim of workplace harassment could be entitled to such leave.
  • Casino and hotel owners. By July 1, 2020, owners of hotels and casinos are required to provide portable safety notification devices (at no cost) to employees who frequently work alone in restrooms, guest rooms, casino floors, or other isolated spaces. The safety device must allow them to call for help if they fear their safety or witness sexual assault or harassment.
    • Casino and hotel owners must also provide all employees with a current copy of the hotel or casino’s anti-sexual harassment policy (including reporting procedures and the prohibition against retaliation), and post the policy in clearly visible areas of the hotel or casino, both in English and Spanish.

Why Use Clear Law Institute’s Online Sexual Harassment Training?

Hundreds of employers rely on Clear Law Institute to provide online sexual harassment training to their employees across the country, given that our training:

  • Complies with all 50 states’ laws, including Illinois
  • Provides users with the ability to ask questions and have those questions answered within two business days, as required by some state laws
  • Is kept up-to-date with any changes in the law at no additional charge
  • Utilizes cutting-edge instructional design principles
  • Efficiently tracks who has and who has not completed the training each year, handled by Clear Law’s Learning Management System. This prevents employers from having to collect and track certificates manually.
  • Meets IDFPR training requirements for continuing education
  • Can be taken by attorneys for CLE credit

Clear Law Institute’s online course, Positive Workplace: Preventing Harassment at Work, is used by hundreds of employers across the nation, including numerous Fortune 500 companies. Learn more about the online harassment training and view a free course demo.

About the Author

Michael Johnson, CEO of Clear Law Institute, is a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who brought one of DOJ’s first “pattern or practice” sexual harassment cases. He has provided training and consulting on harassment prevention or investigations to organizations around the world, such as the EEOC, the United Nations, and Google. He is a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School.  Read more about Michael here. 

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