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December 05, 2022

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Illinois Department of Human Rights Releases Its Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

It is now easier for employers to comply with the recent amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) requiring employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training to employees by December 31, 2020 (and annually thereafter). On April 30, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) released its model sexual harassment prevention training. The model training provides the minimum training standards that employers must provide to their employees. To comply with the IHRA, employers may use the model training at no cost, or modify existing training to meet or exceed these minimum standards.

We previously addressed the IDHR’s guidance, clarifying key aspects of an amendment to the IHRA (including training requirements) and identifying who must comply and which employees must be trained. This article focuses on the minimum required standards for the training.

Model Sexual Harassment Training

The IDHR’s model sexual harassment training guidance provides:

 an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act;

  • examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment;

  • a summary of Federal and State statutory laws concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims; and

  • a summary of employer responsibilities in the prevention, investigation and corrective measures of sexual harassment.

The IDHR answered a list of frequently asked questions, FAQs for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, addressing the new requirements and standards for training.

Supplement Required for Bars and Restaurants

In addition to providing mandatory sexual harassment prevention training, restaurants and bars must provide supplemental training that complies with the industry specific minimum requirements, including training in Spanish and in English. The supplemental training must include industry-specific “conduct, activities, or videos,” and an “explanation of manager liability and responsibility.” The amendments to the IHRA require Illinois restaurants and bars to either develop their own supplemental training or utilize the model training provided by the IDHR (which the IDHR has announced is forthcoming).

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers are required to maintain internal paper or electronic records of training compliance and make them available for IDHR inspection upon request.

Employers may include one of the following records to reflect training compliance:

  • Certificate of participation;

  • Signed copy employee acknowledgement; or

  • Training sign-in sheet.

Employers are required to include the following information in their training records:

  • Name of employee;

  • Date of training;

  • Any of the above issued records of compliance; and

  • A copy of all written or recorded materials that include the training and training provider.

The IDHR stated in a fact sheet that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, employers must still provide the requisite training by December 31, 2020, and every calendar year thereafter by December 31. Under Sections 2-109 and 2-110 of the IHRA, any employer that does not comply will be issued a notice to show cause, which will give the employer 30 days to comply. Failure to comply within 30 days will result in the IDHR petitioning the Illinois Human Rights Commission “for entry of an order imposing a civil penalty against the employer.” If existing training does not meet the minimum standards from the model training, employers may want to consider modifying training quickly or using the IDHR model training.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 126

About this Author

Katherine A. Manuel Employment Litigation Attorney Ogletree Deakins Chicago, IL

Katherine Manuel is an experienced employment litigator who defends companies of all sizes in lawsuits and government agency matters involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, whistleblower, breach of contract, defamation, tort, medical leave and unfair competition claims.  Katherine also devotes a portion of her practice to counseling employers regarding various employment law issues (with a particular focus on leave of absence/accommodation issues), conducting on-site training and handling workplace investigations.  Katherine regularly represents and advises...

Melissa Ortega Employment Lawyer Ogletree

Melissa Ortega is an attorney in the Chicago office of Ogletree Deakins, where she assists employers in a variety of labor and employment matters arising under both state and federal laws.

Ms. Ortega graduated cum laude from DePaul University in 2015, receiving a B.A. in Political Science. In 2019, Ms. Ortega received her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law and obtained a certificate in Labor and Employment Law. While in law school, Ms. Ortega received the CALI award in Legal Writing IV, was recognized as part of the Dean’s List, served on various student organizations’...