Illinois Mandatory Harassment Training: A Complete Overview

Illinois Mandatory Harassment Training: A Complete Overview

The Facts

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Illinois mandatory harassment training deals with seminars on sexual harassment prevention. Sexual harassment is defined as an uninvited sexual advance, unsolicited solicitation for sexual favors, or other unwanted sexual behavior that causes a person to feel insulted, embarrassed, or frightened. The Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") was revised by Public Act 101-0221, mandating Illinois companies to give yearly sexual harassment prevention training.

By the conclusion of the calendar year, all businesses conducting business in Illinois must give yearly sexual harassment training to all workers who work in the state of Illinois and complete documentation of the instruction for each staff member upon request. 

Who Should Receive the Harassment Training?

  • Employers are accountable for their workers' behavior immediately after they are hired; thus, new employees should get mandatory harassment training as soon as they start working.
  • Employees hired on a temporary, part-time, or short-term basis, as well as interns and business owners, must all be taught.
  • Independent contractors should obtain training, according to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), mainly if they operate on-site or in contact with the employer's employees. On the other hand, employers are not required to educate independent contractors under the new rule.
  • If an employee has a disability or speaks a language apart from English, training must be offered in a user-friendly format.

What Must be Included?

The mandatory harassment training will provide all the participants with information about:

  • Recognizing discrimination, misconduct, and sexual misconduct that is illegal.
  • What to do if you suspect prejudice, exploitation, or sexual harassment?
  • What consequences do unconscious bias, abuse, and sexual intimidation have?
  • The repercussions of filing false reports.

Employers may create their customized harassment prevention training programs as long as they satisfy or surpass the Section 2-109(B) minimal training criteria, which include:

  • Employers in Illinois must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.
  • A concise definition of sexual harassment and a review of employer obligations for sexual harassment prevention, investigation, and remediation.
  • Explain what variety of behaviors is considered harassment In Illinois.
  • An overview of significant federal and state statutes addressing sexual harassment, as well as the remedies available to victims.

Organizations must document all training. These records should be made accessible for review by the IDHR upon request. A certificate of participation, a signed employee acknowledgment, or a course sign-in sheet are all examples of training records. It is legal to keep both written and digital documents.

Additional Harassment Training Requirements for Restaurants and Bars Industries

Sexual harassment can be perpetrated against restaurant employees by bosses, coworkers, and customers. Customers who consume alcohol may have reduced inhibitions, making them more prone to improper behavior. Regardless of employment status, restaurants and bars must give additional sexual harassment training to all individuals. 

Employees who rely on compensation may be hesitant to speak out if a customer engages in inappropriate behavior. So, restaurants and bars must have additional sexual harassment training requirements specific to their sectors to prevent sexual harassment. The following are supplementary sexual harassment training standards in Illinois for restaurants and bars:

  • Provide particular examples of behavior, events, or videos linked to the restaurant or bar sector.
  • Explain the legal implications of a manager's sexual harassment accountability and obligation.
  • Within the first calendar week of work, prepare a documented sexual harassment prevention policy and distribute a copy to all employees.
  • All training materials should be available in both English and Spanish.

The Training Model of Illinois Harassment Training

Employers can hire a third-party provider or organization, have current employees offer the IDHR's template sexual harassment prevention training, or develop and deliver training that meets the IHRA's essential criteria. Although the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) has already issued a sample curriculum, employers may create individual sexual harassment training programs to comply with the WTA's (Workplace Transparency Act) standards. 

IHRA Consistent Explanation of Sexual Harassment

The IHRA defines sexual harassment as "any inappropriate physical attempts, demands for sexual favors, or any sexual activity when:

  • Submission to such behavior is made a prerequisite or condition of employment, either openly or indirectly.
  • Individuals' acceptance or condemnation of such behavior is the foundation for employment choices affecting them.
  • Such behavior has the intent to significantly affect an individual's work performance or establish an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Examples of Conduct That Constitute Unlawful Sexual Harassment 

Pressuring for sexual favors or romantic engagement, purposeful groping, or cornering are all types of prohibited sexual harassment that must be included in the training. Aside from that, the program must cover illegal sexual harassment that can occur outside of the job, such as at social gatherings and on social media platforms.

Provisions and rules

A review of relevant federal and state law provisions regulating sexual harassment, especially procedures available to sufferers of sexual harassment, must be included in the training. All appropriate reporting alternatives, notably contact details for the IDHR, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Helpline, must be presented to workers in employer-provided training courses.

Employer responsibility and legal reprimands 

The model emphasizes the essential obligations of employers in terms of preventing, investigating, and addressing alleged sexual harassment. It underlines that employer training must clarify the variations in responsibility between the two types of harassment degrees.

  • Harassment by a manager or superior officer of the company.
  • Harassment by a teammate and non-employees of the company.

Workplace responsibility for harassment by supervisors is rigorous. Still, liability for harassment by colleagues and non-employees is dependent on management's knowledge of the claimed behavior and subsequent inability to act effectively in the situation.

Additionally, employers are guided on how to deal with future liability and particularly other alleviation which may be granted to a prevailing complainant in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The model explains how these can be in the form of reimbursement for lost working days, emotional suffering damages, and lawyers' fees. However, such information is not presented to management in responsive sexual harassment training.

Are There Any Penalties for Violations?

Failure to deliver and maintain sexual harassment training can result in various charges, penalties, and complaints in Illinois. Companies in Illinois that violate the IHRA or IWTA (Workplace Transparency Act) will be served a notice to show the reason, with a 30-day deadline to comply. The IDHR can extend the compliance deadline beyond the first 30 days.

Suppose an employer fails to adhere in 30 days; in that case, the IDHR will request the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) for an action enforcing a civil penalty against the company depending on the company's scale and its record of violations. 

In a Nutshell

Hiring a reliable training firm with knowledge on the subject to teach business personnel is the quickest and most guaranteed approach to stay in line with Illinois's 2021 Sexual Harassment Training Standards. 

Additionally, restaurants and bars must give extra sexual harassment prevention training to all personnel irrespective of employment status. Employers can utilize the model program or build their own that equals or exceeds its essential criteria.

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