Earlier this year, the State of Illinois enacted new legislation requiring every Illinois employer to provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for all employees on an annual basis. While the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly upended businesses and employers throughout the nation, the mandatory training obligations for Illinois employers have not changed. The new legislation directed the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) to develop a model sexual harassment prevention training program, which Illinois employers could adopt and utilize to comply with the statute.
Last week, the IDHR published its long-awaited model sexual harassment prevention training program to the public in Powerpoint and PDF form, in both English and Spanish. The model program consists of 35 slides which provide detailed information, analysis and guidance regarding the following subjects: (i) an explanation of sexual harassment, (ii) examples of unlawful sexual harassment, (iii) a summary of federal and state sexual harassment laws, and (iv) employer responsibilities regarding sexual harassment. The model program also includes a template employee certification of completion that employers can use to record compliance. Illinois employers are free to develop and utilize their own sexual harassment prevention training program so long as the program covers each of the above-referenced subjects in sufficient detail.
Illinois restaurants and bars are subject to additional sexual harassment training requirements, including the obligation to provide every employee a written sexual harassment policy within the first week of employment. The written policy must include (1) a prohibition on sexual harassment; (2) the definition of sexual harassment under Illinois and federal law; (3) details on how to report sexual harassment internally; (4) an explanation of the internal complaint process; (5) instructions on how to file a charge with the IDHR and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; (6) a prohibition on retaliation for reporting sexual harassment; and (7) language requiring that all employees complete sexual harassment prevention training. Restaurants and bars are also required to provide employees with supplemental annual sexual harassment training specifically designed for their industry. The IDHR is expected to publish a model training program for restaurants and bars in the near future.
Prior to publishing the model program, the IDHR issued a preliminary FAQ answering some of the key unanswered questions regarding the training requirements, including categories of employees required to undergo training, documenting compliance, training requirements for employees outside Illinois, utilization of translators for non-English speaking employees, and employer obligations to ensure training is accessible to disabled employees.
If you have any questions regarding Illinois’ mandatory sexual harassment training requirements, or if SFNR can assist with providing the mandatory training for your business, please contact Matt Tyrrell or at 312-648-2300.