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Harassment training mandated in Illinois in 2020

November 29, 2019
The #MeToo movement comes to Illinois businesses beginning Jan. 1, when a law requiring annual sexual harassment training takes effect.
The Workplace Transparency Act, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in August, requires employers to train all employees in Illinois each year. The sweeping new legislation cleared both chambers of the General Assembly without opposition.
Training must include:
• an explanation of sexual harassment;
• examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
• a summary of federal and state statutory provisions, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
• a summary of the responsibilities of employers for prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.
Employers who do not provide compliant training will be subject to civil penalties beginning at $500 and increasing to $5,000 for subsequent violations.
In addition to the training requirements, among other things, the new law makes the following changes:
Independent contractors Senate Bill 75 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect not just employees but also independent contractors from harassment and discrimination.
Disclosures The new law requires employers, labor organizations, and local governments to disclose to the Illinois Department of Human Rights the total number of final adverse administrative or judicial decisions involving sexual harassment or discrimination in the previous year entered anywhere in the U.S.
Employers must make the disclosure beginning July 1, 2020 and each July 1 thereafter. Employers may also be required by the IDHR to disclose during an investigation the total number of settlements involving sexual harassment and discrimination claims entered into during the previous five years anywhere in the U.S.
Non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement clauses, and mandatory arbitration agreements SB 75 places significant restrictions on the use of these types of agreements for cases involving harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.
Victims Economic Security and Safety Act The law expands VESSA to allow victims of domestic, sexual, or gender violence to take unpaid leave to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning, and other assistance without penalty, if requested.  A victim of workplace harassment could be entitled to such leave.