Team Management

New Chicago Ordinance Expands Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements

Maggie Smith Vice President of Human Resources at Traliant 
three people sit at a board table

On July 1, 2022, Chicago expanded the definition of sexual harassment and put new employer training requirements into effect that exceed those set by the state of Illinois. The move aims to increase safety for Chicago employees by helping to prevent workplace harassment and violence.

To comply with Chicago’s new mandate, employers should review and update their sexual harassment compliance program, policies, and training requisites for employees and managers. Keep reading to learn more.

Expanded definition of sexual harassment

Chicago broadened its definition of sexual harassment to include “sexual misconduct,” which is any behavior of a sexual nature that involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.

Increased annual training

Chicago employers are required to train all employees on sexual harassment on an annual basis.

The following requirements must be met each year:

  • Supervisors must complete a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training.
  • Chicago requires other employees to complete a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training.
  • All managers and employees must complete one hour of separate bystander intervention training.

Who should be trained?

All Chicago employees (including short-term, part-time, and interns) as well as independent contractors working on-site with the employer’s staff must comply with Chicago’s training requirements. Managers who are located elsewhere but who supervise employees based in Chicago also must adhere to the Chicago training requirements.

Why is additional sexual harassment prevention training for managers important?

Having managers take additional training on how to prevent discrimination and harassment raises awareness and understanding of their responsibility to treat complaints seriously, promptly report incidents to HR for investigation, and protect employees from retaliation. Enabling managers to quickly recognize and respond to harassment helps to foster a speak-up culture and ethical conduct.

Why is bystander intervention training important?

Teaching bystander intervention techniques to de-escalate situations and support targets of harassing behavior empowers employees to prevent harassment, bullying, and other misconduct. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) calls bystander-intervention training “a game changer that can have a positive impact on workplace culture by creating a sense of collective responsibility.”

Training deadline 

While many organizations have plans underway to train all employees and managers, Chicago is giving employers until June 30, 2023 to complete the first round of annual training. And here’s some good news: if you’re a Gusto customer, you may be eligible for preferred pricing on Traliant courses.

Written policy, poster, and record-keeping requirements

In addition to training, Chicago employers must have a written policy prohibiting sexual harassment and provide it to new employees in their primary language within the first calendar week of employment. 

Organizations also need to display posters stating that sexual harassment is prohinited. The posters must be  visible to employees. 

Employers must maintain a record of the policy documents and training provided to each employee for at least five years or for the duration of any claim, civil action, or pending investigation, whichever is longer.

Penalties

Chicago’s definition of sexual harassment and training requirements are more stringent than those imposed by Illinois. This requires Chicago employers to take additional steps to review and update policies, procedures, and training schedules to comply with the city’s new ordinance. Fines are steep for employers who don’t comply. Penalties can range from $5,000 – $10,000 per violation, each day until the violation is resolved. 

Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith Traliant creates engaging and effective compliance training courses that help organizations stay up to date on workplace requirements and expectations, instill respect and understanding in employee interactions, and enable employees to be their best selves at work.
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