IDHR Provides Further Clarity On Employer Sexual Harassment Prevention
Under last year’s amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act that were contained in the 2019 Workplace Transparency Act, Illinois employers are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training by December 31, 2020, and provide annual refresher training. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) is required to provide model training material, which employers are anxiously awaiting. At a minimum, employers must cover the following topics in order to comply with the IDHR:
- 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.
Many employers that currently already provide anti-harassment training have wanted to see model materials from the IDHR for the purpose of confirming whether their existing programs will satisfy their training obligations under the Workplace Transparency Act. Recently, the IDHR provided notice that it was getting ready to roll out model training materials. According to the IDHR’s most recent updates, these materials should be available before the end of February. For further information the IDHR’s FAQ guidance can be found here: https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Pages/FAQ%20for%20Sexual%20Harassment%20Prevention%20Training.aspx
In its most recent FAQ guidance notice, the IDHR stated that it will not certify training developed by third parties or employers. Rather, employers are required to verify that the training provided to employees meets or exceeds minimum statutory requirements.
Also, the IDHR clarified that, while employers are not require to offer training to independent contractors, employers will be required to provide training to employees that work in Illinois, even on a temporary basis, or who supervise Illinois employees. Part-time and temporary employees need to be trained as well. Employers who rely on temporary employees or on workers assigned through staffing agencies should also understand that, while the IDHR does not require an employer to re-train an employee who already received mandatory training, the IDHR is also taking the position host employers may be held accountable if the prior training was inadequate and effective re-training had not been provided.
Once the IDHR publishes its model training materials, we recommend that employers compare these materials against their existing training tools, and make any necessary changes. If the materials come out in February, as promised, employers should have sufficient time to adapt and schedule training sessions. Until then, employers, especially multi-state employers and employers with temporary or other short-term workforces, should begin to assess the scope of employees who will need to be trained.