Update from CGO (writing this as of January 16, 2020):
As you know, the Illinois Transparency Act now requires all employers in Illinois to provide annual training on Sexual Harassment prevention. The Illinois Department of Human Rights has been directed by the Act to develop training that will be freely available to employers and will meet the requirements of the law. Unfortunately, as of early January, that training has not yet been released. We are hopeful that once it is available, it will be the easiest and most cost effective way for employers to provide the required training to employees. Since the law just took effect January 1st, and employers have to provide training annually, there is plenty of time to evaluate options before proceeding. For that reason, it is our recommendation to wait-and-see what the nature and quality is of that state provided training before pursuing other paid options. That being said, CGO does offer an employee training management software with 200+ workplace safety and compliance courses. We will have an Illinois compliant sexual harassment training in the near future that will make it very easy for you to assign the video training, monitor progress, and record course completions. This software costs $1 per employee per month. If you'd like to learn more about this software please contact info@GoCGO.com. CGO will be monitoring the situation, and will provide further updates and recommendations as appropriate.
Illinois has made a lot of changes for 2020, not the least of which is the requirement that ALL employers provide sexual harassment prevention training for their employees on an annual basis.
Effective January 1, 2020, the new workplace harassment laws:
- Require all employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training to every employee every year;
- Prohibit employers from engaging in or allowing workplace harassment based on any protected trait;
- Allow nonemployees to bring claims of unlawful harassment against employers;
- Prohibit employers from contractually requiring confidentiality or arbitration for certain claims; and
- Require restaurants and hotels to provide supplemental annual training and to establish, distribute and post a written policy on sexual harassment prevention.
In addition, the following new provisions become effective July 1, 2020:
- All parts of the IHRA apply to every employer in the state (currently, most provisions apply only to employers with 15 or more employees);
- Each employer must file a report for any year in which an adverse judgement or ruling was made against it for any employment discrimination or workplace harassment claim; and
- Hotels and casinos must adopt written policies and provide personal safety devices to certain workers.
What does this mean for you?
Training can be time consuming and costly, but the state is actually making this easy . . . or so we have been told. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) is preparing an online training course for both employees as well as supervisors that will meet the requirements of the law and can be accessed at no cost.While some employers might still opt to employ other training methods, the training will still need to meet the state’s minimum requirements and care should be taken to ensure that is the case (side note - we do have a very robust virtual training platform that makes it easy to manage the process of assigning employee courses and tracking completions and it will include Illinois specific sexual harassment trainings that meet state requirements).
What else has the state done?
Illinois has also defined “harassment” as separate and distinct from “sexual harassment”. Harassment occurs when there is unwelcome conduct based on protected traits such as race, color, religion, national origin, disability, pregnancy, and others, when that conduct interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
What should you do?
Employers simply can’t be tolerant of “bad behavior” of any sort. Making excuses for employees who act inappropriately, or not intervening when trouble appears, is a big mistake and could lead to significant repercussions. Make sure that your Employee Handbook is up to date. Lead by example. Hold employees accountable, and don’t condone behavior that is offensive, malicious, or hateful for ANY reason.
If you have concerns about whether the policies and procedures that you have in place are sufficient, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Sandra Teague, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Head of HR Consulting
Connor & Gallagher OneSource (CGO)
This blog post is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussions or opinions be construed as legal advice - it is intended for educational and/or informational purposes only.