Chicago, Ill. (November 3, 2020) - We are now less than two months out from the December 31, 2020 deadline for Illinois employers to ensure that all employees have completed mandatory sexual harassment training.

On January 1, 2020 the Illinois Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) — a comprehensive, bipartisan overhaul of Illinois' sexual harassment and discrimination laws — took effect. The WTA significantly expands the scope and protection of existing employment statues, redefining "harassment" as "any unwelcome conduct" on the basis of a protected characteristic with "the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment."

The WTA requires, among other things, that employers with one or more employees provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to their workforces. Employers are required to train employees, both part-time and full-time, who work or will work in Illinois, each year. Employers are also strongly encouraged to train independent contractors who work on-site or otherwise regularly interact with employees. Employers may develop their own sexual harassment prevention training programs or use model training proved by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), which was made available earlier this year.

With less than two months to go for employers to meet the December 31, 2020 cut-off, employers who have not yet complied should immediately arrange for such training. Companies that are not in compliance will be subject to civil penalties.

Companies should ensure that the training:

  • Is consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and explains what sexual harassment is;
  • Provides examples of prohibited conduct;
  • Explains federal and state sexual harassment prevention laws, including remedies; and
  • Asserts the employer's responsibility to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.