According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, more than 500 sexual harassment charges were filed in Illinois last year compared to about 350 charges made in the state in 2017.
Under the law, the Illinois Department of Human Rights is tasked with creating a curriculum that will be available free of charge to businesses that can use it for training or as a model when developing their own training.
Mo Green, the department’s director of public affairs, said the curriculum will be released by end of the first quarter. The department is also looking to create online training videos, which will be revealed at a later date, he said.
Only employers — a category that includes both companies and nonprofits — with employees working in the state will be required to offer training, Green said. Additional guidance will be issued later next year regarding how quickly a company should train a new hire, he said.
Businesses can face steep fines for not complying with the law. An employer that has fewer than four workers could pay $500 for a first offense. The fine can climb to $3,000 on the third offense. For companies with more than four workers, the penalties for the first offense start at $1,000 and go up to $5,000 on the third offense.
Companies have until December 31, 2020 to provide training, and the human rights department said it has several ways of determining compliance. Any time it investigates charges against a company, the department will verify whether or not onsite training is taking place. It will also confirm a training program is in place when companies register to compete for state public contracts. Employees can also report companies that aren’t complying.