New Illinois Sexual Harassment Prevention Law  

New Illinois Sexual Harassment Prevention Law  

Illinois New Sexual Harassment Training Law 

 

New Illinois Sexual Harassment Laws

 

In 2020 Illinois is making some major changes when it comes to tackling sexual harassment & bullying.  As a result of nationwide movements like #metoo and Times Up, this year the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate worked to create legislation that would provide a new approach to the all too frequent problem of workplace sexual harassment.  Governor JB Pritzker signed the product of their efforts, Public Act 101-0221, into law on August 19, 2019.  The major focuses of the law are to expand required anti- sexual harassment trainings, implement new protocols for hospitality workers, and add safeguards for contractors and consulting professionals.

 The law goes into effect January 1, 2020.  

Sexual Harassment Training Prevention Highlights 

The new law not only prohibits agreements to arbitrate claims involving discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment, but also changes sexual harassment reporting and training requirements, and impacts how union representation is handled during the course of events related to claims of sexual harassment.           

The Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”).  The Workplace Transparency Act will apply to all contracts entered into, modified or extended on or after January 1, 2020, and limits the use of confidentiality provisions in employment agreements and arbitration of sexual harassment in the workplace and other Title VII or IHRA violations. 

The Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act.  Beginning on July 1, 2020, certain employers in the hospitality and casino industries will be required to:

  • Equip employees with personal safety and notification devices that may be used to summon help if they are the victim of or are witnessing sexual harassment or a crime. This also known as a “panic button.”
  • Expressly inform each of their employees about the protections against sexual harassment and discrimination as found in the IHRA and Title VII. Employers will now be required to include specific language in written anti-sexual harassment policies, instructing employees to leave the work area immediately if they perceive danger.
  • Take measures to separate employees from offending guests and accommodate employees who seek legal protection against offending guests. Employers will now be required to offer employees temporary work assignments to accommodate them if they complain about guests who have engaged in sexual harassment and provide employees with paid time off to make police reports about offending guests and to attend legal proceedings regarding any such complaints.

Restaurant and bar employers will now also be required to provide a written sexual harassment prevention policy to all new employees during the first calendar week of their employment. The anti-harassment policy must be provided in both English and Spanish. The policy must include:

  • a prohibition against sexual harassment;
  • a definition of sexual harassment;
  • a description of sexual harassment;
  • the internal complaint process and penalties for violations;
  • an explanation of the legal recourse available to employees for violation of the policy, including directions on how to contact the Department or the Illinois Human Rights Commission; and
  • protection against retaliation.

UPDATES TO THE IHRA . . . . . 

Starting January 1, 2020, the IHRA will now:

  • Expressly apply to working environments beyond the physical location at which employees perform their assigned duties, signifying that sexual harassment of remote workers taking place exclusively online and/or outside the workplace is prohibited by the Act;
  • Protect against discrimination or harassment on the basis of an individual’s “perceived” status protected by the IHRA;
  • Protect non-employees performing work for an employer (e., contractors and consultants in an employer’s workplace)
  • Require the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) to develop an model anti-harassment training program for sexual harassment prevention
  • Require all Illinois employers to establish a training course consistent with a forthcoming state sexual harassment program, and issue training at least once per year to all employees.

In addition, beginning July 1, 2020, Illinois employers will be required to disclose annually the number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings that have been entered against the employer related to sexual harassment or certain types of discrimination.  If the Illinois Department of Human Rights investigates a civil rights charge against an employer, the employer may be required to disclose the total number of settlements related to sexual harassment or discrimination.

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New Training Law & it’s requirements:

Companies with Illinois-based operations should review and update employee handbooks, trainings, arbitration agreements, employment agreements with confidentiality provisions and any severance and/or separation agreements to ensure they are in compliance with the Act.

  • The new law amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to require all employers to provide annual sexual harassment training course to all employees.
  • Restaurants and Bars have additional specific requirements.
  • Hotel and Casino employers must provide employees who work alone with a notification device that will alert someone for help if the employee is in danger of being sexually assaulted or harassed.

The new law amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to require all employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. At minimum, the training must include:

  • an explanation of sexual harassment;
  • examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  • a summary of relevant state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment and the remedies for violations of these laws; and
  • a summary of the employer’s responsibility to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment.

For restaurants and bars, the amendment requires the department to create a supplemental training program that includes the following; conduct, activities, and/or videos related specifically to the restaurant and bar industries; an explanation of manager liability and responsibility under the law; and English and Spanish options. All restaurant and bar employers must provide this supplemental training by either using the Department’s model or their own program that meets or exceeds the minimum of the Department’s model. Restaurant and bar employers will now also be required to provide a written sexual harassment policy to all new employees during the first calendar week of their employment. The anti-harassment policy must be provided in both English and Spanish. The policy must include:

  • a prohibition against sexual harassment;
  • a definition of sexual harassment;
  • a description of sexual harassment;
  • the internal complaint process and penalties for violations;
  • an explanation of the legal recourse available to employees for violation of the policy, including directions on how to contact the Department or the Illinois Human Rights Commission; and
  • protection against retaliation.

Employers that fail to follow the new reporting and training requirements will be subject to civil penalties imposed by the Department of Human Rights.

The law also creates the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act. Employers in effected industries must provide employees who work alone with a notification device that will alert someone for help if the employee is in danger of being sexually assaulted or harassed. This is especially important for employees who often work in an isolated setting. Sexual harassment can often be about exertion of power or control on another individual. An isolated environment can make these situation more common and frightening since the harasser believes they are not being watched. The device must be provided to the employee at no cost. Also, hotels and casinos must develop written, anti-sexual-harassment policies that protect employees against sexual assault and harassment by patrons.

When the employer reports the adverse judgment or administrative ruling, the employer must also indicate whether any equitable relief was ordered against the employer in any of those final judgments, and provide a breakdown of the number of final judgments that were entered in cases involving:

 Harassment or Intimation is also illegal for the following categories listed below:

  • race, color, or national origin;
  • religion;
  • age;
  • disability;
  • military status;
  • sexual orientation or gender identity; and
  • discrimination / harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic.

For more on Federal and Illinois sexual harassment prevention training requirements, Click Here.

 

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