Tom Stilp, JD, MBA/MM, LLM, MSC

Illinois has passed a law which will require that all employers provide all their employees with sexual harassment prevention training by the end of this year and on an ongoing annual basis.  The law is an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act known as the Workplace Transparency Act.   The Act requires that all Illinois employers who have one or more employees working in Illinois to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees, each year, starting in 2020. Accordingly, an employer of one employee will be required to provide training.

The sexual harassment training must include the following requirements imposed by the Illinois Human Rights Act:

  • 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.

The first training deadline is December 31, 2020. Training is then required annually.  All employees must be trained, including short-term employees, part-time employees, and interns.

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.

Employers are required to provide training that is accessible to its employees. If an employee has a disability or speaks a language other than English, training must be provided to the employee in an accessible manner (e.g., through a translator).  Further, employees must be paid while taking the training.  If an employee who takes the training outside of working hours due to their schedule must be paid for the time spent taking the training.  This may require overtime pay.

Failure to provide the training is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act which can subject employers 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.  IDHR allows employees to report employers who do not comply with the sexual training requirement anonymously, which would likely trigger an IDHR investigation of the employer.

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