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Illinois Workplace Harassment Training Deadline Fast-Approaching

New to 2020, Illinois employers of all sizes must conduct sexual harassment prevention training by Dec. 31. This training requirement is part of the Illinois Workplace Transparency Act, which requires employers to provide workplace harassment training to all employees at least once a year.

The training must include, at a minimum:

  1. An explanation of sexual harassment as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA);

  2. Examples of unlawful sexual harassment;

  3. A summary of relevant federal and state statutes, including remedies available; and

  4. A summary of the employer’s responsibilities to prevent, investigate, and correct occurrences of sexual harassment.

Bars and Restaurants

Bars and restaurants have a larger obligation to create a training program that is tailored to the industry. At a minimum, in addition to the training requirements described above, trainings for bars and restaurants must include:  

  1. Specific conduct, activities, or videos related to the restaurant or bar industry;

  2. An explanation of manager liability and responsibility; and

  3. Options for training in English and Spanish.

Restaurants and bars must also establish and distribute a written policy on sexual harassment prevention to all employees.


Companies are required to keep a record of all trainings including, for example, the employee’s written acknowledgement of training completion, the date of the training, and by whom the training was conducted. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) provides that the record may be a certificate or a signed employee acknowledgement/course sign-in. Records must be maintained and available for the IDHR upon request.

Compliance Violations

While there is no private right of action available for failure to conduct the required training, the IDHR can issue a notice to show cause, providing the employer 30 days to comply with the training requirements. If the employer fails to comply with the training requirements, the Illinois Human Rights Commission may assess civil penalties as follows:

  • Employers with fewer than four employees:

  1. up to $500 for the first offense;

  2. up to $1,000 for the second offense; and

  3. up to $3,000 for three or more offenses.

  • Employers with four or more employees:

  1. up to $1,000 for the first offense;

  2. up to $3,000 for the second offense; and

  3. up to $5,000 for three or more offenses.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates that 25% to 85% of working women have experienced sexual harassment on the job. The Illinois Workplace Transparency Act explains, “[o]rganizational tolerance of sexual harassment has a detrimental influence in workplaces by creating a hostile work environment … reducing productivity, and increasing legal liability.”

Against this backdrop, the IDHR created training materials that comply with the above legal requirements. While these materials are better than nothing, there is no substitute for dynamic, non-legalese, and tailored trainings that present these important topics in relatable terms. Beyond legal requirements, implementing policies and training programs that promote safe and inclusive workplaces often:

  1. maximizes employee engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and retention; and

  2. minimizes risk of lawsuits, reputational harm, employee absenteeism, and

Employers should work with experienced legal counsel to conduct employment trainings to ensure compliance with the Illinois Workplace Transparency Act.

©2020 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved. National Law Review, Volume X, Number 293



About this Author

Jon Zimring, Greenberg Traurig Law Firm, Chicago, Labor and Employment Attorney

Jon Zimring is Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s Workforce Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement group. He practices management-side labor and employment law, representing clients before both the courts and administrative agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), numerous state and local counterparts to these agencies, and additional other federal, state, and local agencies that investigate, audit...

Lily M. McNulty Labor & Employment Attorney Greenberg Traurig Chicago, IL

Lily is a trusted advisor to companies of all sizes in the areas of employment law and labor relations. She takes great pride in building relationships with clients and providing practical, strategic advice. Clients value her knowledge of employment laws and commitment to their business goals, improving employee relations, and minimizing legal risk.

Lily provides compliance-related and strategic advice on virtually all employment related matters such as managing employee relations and performance, complying with wage and hour laws, conducting background checks, complying with pre-...