Legislative Efforts to Curb Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Industry Finally Reach Fruition in Illinois
Earlier this year, we reported legislative efforts in Illinois to curb sexual harassment in the hospitality industry via Illinois House Bill 3551, which would require restaurants to adopt a sexual harassment policy and provide training to all employees. While that bill appears to have stalled in the House, similar requirements appear in Illinois Senate Bill 75 (titled the “Workplace Transparency Act”), which, after sitting on the Governor Pritzker’s desk for several months, was finally signed by Governor Pritzker on August 9, 2019.
Section 2-110 of the Workplace Transparency Act requires everyrestaurant and bar operating in Illinois, regardless of its size or number of employees, to adopt and provide to all employees, within one week of hire, a sexual harassment policy (in English and Spanish) containing the following:
A prohibition on sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment allegations;
A description of how to report an allegation of sexual harassment internally;
An explanation of the internal complaint process available to employees;
Instructions on how to contact and file a charge with relevant state and federal agencies; and
A requirement that all employees participate in sexual harassment prevention training.
Notably, the definition of “restaurant” is very broad. It includes “restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, and sandwich stands that give or offer for sale food to the public, guests, or employees,” as well as “kitchen or catering facilities in which food is prepared on the premises for serving elsewhere.”
While the Act requires all Illinois employers to provide annual anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, bars and restaurants must also provide annual “supplemental” anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, addressing issues endemic to the hospitality industry, as well as manager liability and responsibility under the law (i.e., training equal to or exceeding the free supplemental model training to be issued by the Illinois Department of Human Rights).
Violations of the Act not cured within 30 days could result in civil penalties up to $1,000 for the first offense.
The Act takes effect January 1, 2020. Between now and then, we advise covered employers to work with counsel to draft and implement a sexual harassment policy and training program for employees (or alternatively, to at least plan on utilizing the forthcoming, state-issued training materials).