May 14, 2020

Illinois employers should take note: the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect the December 31, 2020 deadline to train all employees on sexual harassment prevention, according to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), which recently released its model training program. To date, Illinois is one of six states that require employers to provide sexual harassment training to employees and managers, joining California, New York, Connecticut, Maine and Delaware.

Who needs to be trained?

Illinois employers are responsible for training all employees by December 31, 2020, and then annually. This includes short-term and part-time employees and interns. New employees should be trained as soon as possible. And while not a requirement, the agency strongly advises training independent contractors who are working on-site at an employer’s workplace or interact with staff. 

Illinois training requirements

At a minimum, the training should include:

  1. An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IRHA.
  2. Examples of conduct that may constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
  3. A summary of federal and state laws concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims.
  4. A summary of employers’ responsibilities in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.

Extra requirements for restaurants & bars

In addition to meeting the state’s annual training requirements, restaurants and bars must also provide supplemental training to employees, in both English and Spanish. The additional training material must include specific conduct, activities or videos related to the restaurant or bar industry, and an explanation of managers’ liability and responsibility under the law. IDHR’s supplemental training model for restaurants and bars is not yet available. 

Work environment isn’t bound by four walls

Training should also raise awareness of the risk of sexual harassment beyond the physical workplace. This is especially relevant as more employees work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. The IDHR says employees’ working environment is not limited to the physical location where the employee is assigned, and can be “off-site, mobile or moving work sites/locations.”  Further, the IDHR addresses sexual harassment that occurs online and through social media — even when it’s “off the clock, off-site or even out of state.”

Traliant Insight

With less than eight months before the December 31 deadline, Illinois employers should be taking steps now to ensure that all employees complete sexual harassment prevention training, as mandated by the Workplace Transparency Act (SB 75). Under the new law, employees must be retrained every calendar year, including part-time and short-term workers and interns. Whether employees are working onsite, from home, or in a variety of locations, everyone can benefit from modern, interactive training that focuses on raising awareness and preventing different types of sexual harassment, and creating a respectful, inclusive culture.