Update from CGO (writing this as of May 5, 2020):
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.