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IDHR’s Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training – Available March 31, 2020

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IDHR’s Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training – Available March 31, 2020

All Illinois employers must provide yearly sexual harassment prevention training starting this year. Illinois Public Act 101-0221 amended the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") , Section 2-109,requiring Illinois employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training by December 31, 2020, and then annually thereafter.

Model Sexual Training Program

As part of the amendment, the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") was required to develop a model sexual harassment prevention training program for use by employers. According to its website, IDHR's model sexual harassment prevention training will be available March 31, 2020. This will serve as a guideline for what the training should include in order to comply with the laws.

While employers may follow the IDHR model, employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training programs provided they meet or exceed the minimum training standards outlined in Section 2-109(B) which include:

  • an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IHRA;
  • examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  • a summary of relevant federal and State statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
  • a summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.

Who Must Provide Training.

Every employer with employees working in the State of Illinois must provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training that complies with Section 2-109 of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA").[1] Employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training program that equals or exceeds the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention training outlined in Section 2-109(B) of the IHRA, or may use the model sexual harassment prevention training developed by the IDHR.

There is no exception for small businesses. Employers who have 1 or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to their staff.

There is also no exception for non-Illinois business that have employees working in Illinois. They must also receive training that meets the IDHR guidelines.

Restaurants and Bars Must Provide Additional Training/Written Policies

All employers must provide the training, but certain businesses, those at a greater risk for sexual harassment, have to provide more training and information to their employees. In addition to the training required under Section 2-109, restaurants and bars are also required to provide supplemental sexual harassment prevention training that complies with Section 2-110 of the IHRA. These employers must also establish and disseminate a written policy on sexual harassment prevention training.

Restaurants and bars may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training programs provided it meets or exceeds the minimum training standards outlined in Sections 2-109(B) and 2-110(C) of the IHRA.

Section 2-109(B) minimum training standards include:

  • an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IHRA;
  • examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  • a summary of relevant federal and State statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
  • a summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.

Section 2-110(C) minimum supplemental training standards include:

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

Who must be trained.

All employees regardless of their status, for example short-term, part-time, hourly or intern, must be trained. Independent contractors do not need to be trained, but improperly identifying a class of workers as “independent contractors” will not void this obligation.

In addition, any employees who work or will work in Illinois must be trained, regardless of whether the employer is based in Illinois. If an employee is based elsewhere but regularly interacts with other employees in Illinois, even if they are not physically present in Illinois, they should be trained.

Proof 0f Training.

Employers must retain records demonstrating all employees received the required sexual harassment prevention training. A training sign in or proof of attendance must be kept.

If an employee is hired after the training has been completed, the employer may rely on prior training that the employee received for that year, provided the employer has documentation from the prior employer that the training occurred. If the employer is unable to obtain the proper documentation, employers must have the employee retrained. Again, the employer is responsible for demonstrating all employees completed the annual training.

Such records must be made available for IDHR inspection upon request.

When Must The Training Be Completed.

All training must be completed by the end of 2020, and then yearly thereafter. By December 31, 2020, employers must have trained all their employees.

Training Must Be Accessible.

Employers must provide the training in a way that is accessible to its staff. If employees have disabilities or speak a language other than English, employers must train employees in a manner that is accessible to them.

Employees Must Be Compensated for Training Time.

The employer must compensate employees for their training time. It is anticipated that most training will take place during normal business hours. If an employer requires their employees to take the training outside of their regular hours – for example, on their personal phones or laptops before the start of a shift – they must be paid for their time.

Plan For Training Time Now.

Employers should set time during the summer or early fall for this training. All employees, without exception, must be trained by the end of year. If you wait until the end of year, you risk employees missing the mandatory training due to vacations or illness. Moreover, you want your employees to be trained on sexual harassment prevention to not only avoid claims of sexual harassment but to also make your workplace a better place to work.

If you have any questions, please contact Kristin Tauras at ktauras@mckenna-law.com. Kristin devotes a significant portion of her practice to employment litigation.

Categories Employment Law General Litigation Legal Updates



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