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On April 28, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) published its model sexual harassment prevention training program. The training program was issued in response to last year’s Illinois Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”). The WTA, part of the Illinois General Assembly’s response to the #metoo movement, requires all Illinois employers (including school districts, charter schools, and private schools) to train employees on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter.

To comply with the WTA, employers must either develop their own sexual harassment prevention training program that meets or exceeds the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention training outlined in Section 2-109 of the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) (775 ILCS 5/2-109), or use the IDHR model training program. If an employer decides to develop its own sexual harassment prevention training program, it must meet or exceed the IHRA minimum training standards, which include:

  • an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the IHRA;
  • examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  • a summary of relevant federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
  • a summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.

An employer also may use a third-party vendor or organization to deliver the IDHR’s model sexual harassment prevention training, or create and deliver its own training that complies with the minimum standards outlined in the IHRA. Employers are required to keep an electronic or paper record of the sexual harassment trainings, such as a certificate, training sign-in sheet, or signed employee acknowledgement, to be made available to the IDHR upon request.

Employers must train all of their employees, including new hires, short-term employees, part-time employees, or those completing internships. Notably, employers are not required to train independent contractors. However, independent contractors should receive training if they are working on-site at an employer’s workplace or will interact with the employer’s staff.

All employers must ensure that all employees have received sexual harassment prevention training by December 31, 2020. Failure to do so could result in civil penalties, including fines. In addition, school districts will need to consider how to provide sexual harassment training for employees that aligns with both the IDHR requirements and the recently amended Title IX regulations (see our article here).

Please contact an attorney in our Labor/Personnel practice group if you have questions regarding the now-required sexual harassment prevention training.

Source: State of Illinois Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, April 2020