New Workplace Law in Illinois, Increased Obligations for Employers: Part III
In our third posting on the new Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA” or the “Act”), effective January 1, 2020, we consider the introduction of mandatory sexual harassment prevention training that all employers must begin to provide.
Mandatory Annual Sexual Harassment Prevention Training under the WTA
The WTA amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) to address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) has been given the responsibility to produce a model training program for preventing sexual harassment; the program is not yet available.
- Every employer must use the IDHR program or establish a program that is equal to or exceeds the IDHR program.
- At a minimum, the training program must:
- explain sexual harassment as defined by the WTA
- provide examples of unlawful sexual harassment
- summarize relevant federal and state laws addressing sexual harassment including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment
- summarize employer responsibilities and duties for preventing and investigating sexual harassment, including corrective measures that employers must take if such harassment is found to have occurred.
- All employees must receive the training at least once a year.
- Beginning January 1, 2020, employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by December 31, 2020.
Consequences for Employers Who Fail To Comply
If an employer fails to provide the training, the IDHR may issue a notice to show cause, giving the employer 30 days to comply. If the employer does not comply within that time, the IDHR can petition the Illinois Human Rights Commission for entry of an order imposing a civil penalty against the employer.
- Employers with fewer than four employees may face penalties of up to $500 for a first offense, up to $1,000 for a second offense, and up to $3,000 for three or more offenses.
- Employers with at least four employees can face penalties of up to $1,000, $3,000, and $5,000 respectively.
Launch of the IDHR Model Training Program
The IDHR training program is expected this spring.
In the interim, it is recommended that employers begin to schedule the mandatory training as early in the year as possible to assure everyone is trained. Employers may utilize other sexual harassment training programs that cover the minimum requirements.
What Do Employers Need To Do To Comply With WTA?
- Immediately verify that their sexual harassment prevention programs and reporting procedures satisfy the new requirements.
- If an employer does not have a program in place, they may wait for the IDHR model training program, or use a training program that meets or exceeds the IDHR program.
- Make sure that all employees that receive training sign an acknowledgement of the training which is kept in their personnel files.
- Contact an attorney at Boodell & Domanskis, LLC to assist your company in reviewing and updating your discrimination policies and procedures to assure compliance with the WTA.