Illinois Sexual Harassment Training: Everything You Need To Know

Illinois Sexual Harassment Training: Everything You Need To Know

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Conducting Illinois sexual harassment training is mandatory. In 2019, the governor of Illinois passed senate bill (SB )75 in the general assembly that made it compulsory for every employer in the state to conduct sexual harassment prevention training. This senate bill will significantly transform the existing sexual harassment and discrimination regulation in Illinois and help reduce the instances of prejudice.

It further became a law in August 2019 and is commonly known as the Workplace Transparency Act or WTA. The Illinois senate bill 75 essentially changed the state need for sexual harassment prevention training and reporting to avert future incidents.

Understanding Illinois Sexual Harassment Training Requirements 

The state of Illinois’ latest sexual harassment training requirements were specified by SB (Senate Bill) 75. This regulation demands all private organizations in Illinois to deliver sexual harassment prevention training at least once every year. In addition to the fundamental training that all companies must provide, hotels, restaurants, and bars must also deliver additional training.

In addition, the Illinois sexual harassment training law requires that every anti-harassment training should comprise a description of sexual harassment under Illinois statute. It should also include an example of illegal sexual harassment, a synopsis of relevant national and Illinois laws involving sexual harassment, and remedies available to the victim of sexual harassment in a workplace. 

Apart from this, employers must maintain a summary of responsibilities to control, investigate and take measures to solve sexual harassment instances. So we can say that these are the minimum standards that must remain present in all training, including model training.

Extra Conditions for Restaurants and Bars

For bars and restaurants, the SB 75 amendment directs the IDHR (Illinois Department of Human Rights) to build a supplementary training schedule that must comprise conduct, actions, and videos specifically related to the bar and restaurant industries. In addition, it should further include a description of supervisor obligation under the law in English and Spanish language. 

All restaurant and bar owners must supply this supplemental training by employing the Department’s standard or a tailored program that meets or transcends the model.

Restaurant and bar employers must provide a documented sexual harassment guideline to all new workers during the first week of their job in both English and Spanish. Apart from that, the policy must include the following:

  • Prohibition against sexual harassment.
  • Definition of sexual harassment.
  • Explanation of sexual harassment.
  • Internal complaint procedure and damages for violations.
  • Description of the lawful recourse available to workers for infringement of the guideline, including tips on how to reach the Department or the IDHR (Illinois Human Rights Commission).
  • Protection against retaliation.

Illinois SB 75: A Brief Overview 

The SB (Senate Bill) 75 presented three new regulations while also modifying the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) that remained in effect since 2019. The principal objective of passing this senate bill was to guarantee that companies would not be controlling their workers by making them enter into ambiguous workplace contracts that would be dangerous to their wellbeing. 

It would be attainable by limiting organizational agreements like clauses, contracts, and waivers that do not allow an employee to voluntarily communicate against unlawful behavior to regional, state, or national authorities. 

In this regard, the WTA (Workplace Transparency Act) with SB 75 would guarantee that employees can freely bring any wrongful conduct in light without facing any retaliation from the workplace or employer. The SB 75 law applies to all organizations that hire more than one employee, particularly service-related industries like bars and restaurants.

What Changes Did the SB 75 Bring About in Organizations in Illinois?

After the enactment of SB 75, there were a few changes in the following: 

  • Elimination of unilateral arbitration

Arbitration means the procedure of settling any matter outside the court or tribunal. While this is a usual approach, it remains fair when both parties voluntarily agree to resolve the claims outside court without wanting a trial. 

Thus, the existence of unilateral arbitration will imply that one party will maintain the upper hand and is the only decision-maker when it comes to whether or not the matter goes to court. It was the sole reason the SB 75 entirely eradicated this practice. 

  • Harassment reporting procedures

Some organizations in Illinois tend to hide the sum they expend to employees in suits. Nevertheless, SB 75 will mandate companies to reveal payments to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) once every year. In this manner, the Illinois Department of Human Rights can maintain track of the number of sexual harassment incidents happening in a given term. 

In addition, the number of non-appealable, definitive decisions of sexual harassment and exploitation must also get registered to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. The nature of the prejudice also has to be noted whether the victim’s race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or other factors were the cause behind the discrimination or harassment.

  • Limitations on nondisclosure agreements

If employees in an organization remain bound in nondisclosure and non-disparagement contracts and are encountering harassment in their workplace, these contracts will be deemed void. Nevertheless, before these papers get discarded, you must have to get them reviewed by external legal counsel to ensure they do not impede employees' freedom. 

How to Store and Share Sexual Harassment Training Documentation in Illinois?

After the SB 75 act came into force, the IDHR (Illinois Department of Human Rights) does not need Illinois organizations to certify that they comply with sexual harassment training provisions in the state. Nevertheless, this could change in the future.

Therefore, the ultimate thing you want when an allegation of sexual harassment occurs in your organization is to find proof that your employees received adequate training.

So to have better peace of mind for your company, it is recommended to keep a record of training that you can quickly submit to the IDHR (Illinois Department of Human Rights) upon request. Generally, a request for your sexual harassment training documents will only occur when a sexual harassment charge gets initiated via the IDHR ((Illinois Department of Human Rights).

However, it is the most suitable method to keep your sexual harassment prevention training documents in writing or electronic format. Also, ensure they remain easily accessible, well-organized, and shared appropriately.

Your company's sexual harassment prevention training records should comprise all names of workers trained and the name of the training provider. It must likewise include dates on which the harassment prevention training took place along with sign-in sheets, replications of certificates of participation, and documents of all training materials.

Penalties for Failure to Provide and Document Sexual Harassment Training in Illinois

Any Illinois organization that infringes the IHRA (Illinois Human Rights Act) or IWTA (Workplace Transparency Act) will get the notice to show the reason, providing the companies 30 days to comply. In addition, it is within the IDHR's power to extend that adherence date after the initial 30 days. 

However, if a company fails to comply within 30 days or by the subsequent date specified by the Illinois Human Rights Act, the IDHR will impose a civil penalty against the company based on the company size and record of offenses.

The Bottom Line 

To summarize, SB 75 has entirely eradicated the control companies would have over their employees. So the most suitable way for you to remain compliant with the SB 75 is to hire a trusted training firm with knowledge in this area to train your employees and allow you to concentrate on the core operations of your company. 

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