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Illinois SB75 Requires Anti-Harassment Training For All Employees, Special Requirements for Restaurants and Bars

Labor & Employment Publications

This alert is the third installment in our series on Illinois’ new anti-harassment legislation, SB75, which is awaiting signature by Governor Pritzker. This alert focuses on new training requirements for private-sector employees in Illinois.

Annual Sexual Harassment Training Required

SB75 amends the IHRA to require all employers not already subject to the training requirements under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. The training must, at minimum, include: (1) an explanation of sexual harassment; (2) examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment; (3) a summary of relevant state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment and the remedies for violations of these laws; and (4) a summary of the employer’s responsibility to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment.

The amendment requires the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) to create a model training program and make it available online at no cost to employers. The amendment does not set a date by which the IDHR is to post its training, nor does it make clear whether the training program to be created by the IDHR will be a complete video or web-based training module that employers can use “as-is,” or merely a set of training materials that employers will be able to use for their training programs.

Additional Requirements for Restaurants and Bars

For restaurants and bars, the amendment requires the IDHR to create a supplemental training program that includes: 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 model.

Restaurant and bar employers will also now be required to provide a written sexual harassment policy to all new employees during the first calendar week of their employment. The policy must be provided in both English and Spanish. The policy must include: (1) a prohibition against sexual harassment; (2) a definition of sexual harassment; (3) a description of sexual harassment; (4) the internal complaint process and penalties for violations; (5) 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 (6) protection against retaliation.

Key Insights for Employers

Employers should be prepared to implement the new required training in 2020 and each year thereafter.

  • While there are still good reasons to train employees before the new law takes effect on January 1, 2020, it is not clear whether such training will count toward compliance with the law.
  • The model training programs to be provided by the IDHR will meet minimum requirements under the law, but employers should strongly consider supplementing that content with additional training as part of a comprehensive initiative to create a respectful working environment.
  • In particular, employers should train all managers, supervisors, senior leaders, and governing board members regarding their particular responsibilities for preventing and responding to workplace harassment.