Last August, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) into law, which created new protections for employees and rules for employers. The Act serves as a means to help address and reduce the rising number of sexual harassment charges filed in Illinois.
While the WTA created a variety of new requirements and amended legislation, this article will focus on how it impacts institutions’ sexual harassment policies and practices.
The WTA provides two significant changes to how institutions handle sexual harassment:
- All Illinois institutions must conduct annual sexual harassment training. If training is already implemented, it must be expanded to cover harassment and unlawful discrimination.
- All Illinois institutions must provide annual reports concerning harassment claims to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).
The WTA has been in effect since January 1, 2020 and the IDHR is committed to ensuring that these new requirements are addressed by notifying employers of the potential fines associated with not complying – ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Illinois institutions have until January 1st, 2021 to implement new annual training on sexual harassment, harassment, and unlawful discrimination. The WTA outlines the following training requirements at a minimum:
- An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with this Act’s 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.
- A summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation, and corrective measures of sexual harassment.
In addition to training, the WTA also created a new definition of “harassment,” which is now defined as any “unwelcome conduct.”
Reporting Requirements – July 1, 2020
In addition to the expansion of sexual harassment training, the WTA is now requiring employers, or institutions, to begin reporting back to the IDHR on sexual harassment data beginning on July 1, 2020.
The following data must be compiled and reported to the IDHR annually:
- The total number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings during the preceding year.
- Whether any equitable relief was ordered against the employer in any adverse judgment or administrative ruling.
- How many adverse judgments or administrative rulings are in each of the following categories:
- Sexual harassment.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of religion.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of age.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of disability.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of military status or unfavorable discharge from military status.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Discrimination or harassment on the basis of any other characteristic protected.
As mentioned above, these are only two of the significant changes affecting Illinois employers with the Workplace Transparency Act. If you are an organization located within Illinois, we recommend making yourself familiar with the entire Workplace Transparency Act legislation.
Comply with WTA Today
Our Sexual Harassment Staff-to-Staff (Illinois) course is an engaging, evidence-based course that can help you comply with the Workplace Transparency Act. Written by Industry Experts, this course features real-life scenarios, so that employees can know what to do if they come across it in the workplace.