Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Update from Illinois Department of Human Rights

Published February 5, 2020

Written by Christopher R. Gorman

On January 31, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) released long-awaited guidance on the Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”), ending nearly six months of uncertainty for Illinois employers struggling to understand new requirements for workplace sexual harassment prevention training. 

As we described previously, the WTA introduced sweeping reforms to combat sexual harassment in Illinois workplaces, including an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) requiring that all employers provide employees sexual harassment prevention training annually. Yet, when the WTA took effect on January 1, 2020, IDHR had yet to release its model training program. As such, Illinois employers could not be certain that their own sexual harassment training programs would satisfy the minimum (and ambiguous) standards of the WTA.

In an effort to address concerns raised by employers, IDHR published a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) document and handouts, providing employers much-needed insight into compliance with the WTA’s training requirements. (The publications released by IDHR can be found on the IDHR’s website or by clicking the links above.)

Notably, IDHR clarified the following compliance requirements:

  • Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees no later than December 31, 2020, and annually thereafter;
  • Employers must train all employees, regardless of their status (i.e., short-term, part-time or interns) or where they are assigned, if they interact with other employees in Illinois;
  • Employers are not required to train independent contractors but are strongly encouraged to do so;
  • Employers cannot rely on IDHR to certify training materials as compliant with the WTA;
  • Employers can rely on documentation provided by employees who received training with his or her previous employer but must ensure the training was IHRA compliant;
  • Employers must train new hires before December 31st of the year during which they are hired;
  • Employers are responsible for retaining a record of all trainings, which must be made available to IDHR upon request; and
  • Employers must compensate employees for any training conducted outside of regular working hours.

IDHR also announced plans to release its approved training program in February 2020. Given the continuing questions about what content employers should include in training programs to comply with the WTA, the release of IDHR’s own program is expected to provide employers the necessary framework for moving forward.

Robbins Schwartz will continue to monitor the development and release of IDHR’s model sexual harassment training program. Feel free to contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney with any questions about these new developments.