Illinois Expands Required Sexual Harassment Training Guidelines for Employers

November 23, 2021

Public Act 101-0221 amended the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), requiring all Illinois employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training. Furthermore, the IHRA requires restaurants and bars to establish and disseminate a written policy on sexual harassment prevention training and provide “supplemental” sexual harassment prevention training. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) was tasked with developing a model sexual harassment prevention training program for use by employers.  Employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training program that equals or exceeds the minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention training outlined in Section 2-109(B) and/or Section 2-110(C) of IHRA.

Every employer with employees working in the State of Illinois is required to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training that complies with Section 2-109 of the IHRA. All employees must be trained regardless of their status as full-time, part-time, or intern.

Although employers are encouraged to retrain their new employees, regardless of whether the employee received the required training at a prior place of employment, employees do not need to take the training at each workplace they work over the course of a year Employers must independently retain their own records to show that all employees received the required sexual harassment prevention training. Employers may ask employees to provide documentation that they completed the training elsewhere. However, employers are responsible for ensuring the training received elsewhere is compliant with the IHRA. If the employer is unable to obtain the proper documentation, employers must retrain the employee. Such records must be made available for IDHR inspection upon request.

Employers may use a third-party vendor or organization, have existing staff deliver the IDHR’s model sexual harassment prevention training, or create and deliver their own training that complies with the minimum standards outlined in the IHRA. Employers should provide training to new staff as soon as possible after hire because employers are liable for the sexual harassment conduct of new employees upon their hire.

For questions on how to best comply with the new requirements of Public Act 101-0221, please contact the attorneys at Rock, Fusco & Connelly, LLC.