Starting Jan. 1, 2020, employees in Illinois will have expanded legal protections against harassment and victimization, under the recently enacted Workplace Transparency Act (Pub. Act 101-0221), which amends the state’s Human Rights Act and Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act. The law requires employers to conduct annual sexual harassment prevention training and sharply limits the use of nondisclosure agreements and mandatory arbitration for harassment and discrimination claims. Effective July 1, 2020, employers found by a court or administrative ruling to have engaged in illegal harassment or discrimination will have to file annual reports with the state Department of Human Rights (DHR).
The act will apply to all employers with at least one employee in Illinois, but exempts contracts covered by the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act or the National Labor Relations Act. The new law expands existing anti-bias provisions to include harassment occurring outside the office and protect “nonemployees” — independent contractors, consultants and others who directly perform contract services for an employer.
Employers will have to:
─ The DHR will publish a free model training program for employers to use.
The DHR will publish an annual report aggregating employers’ submitted information on adverse discrimination or harassment judgments. Subject to certain criteria, the DHR could open a preliminary investigation against an employer.
The Workplace Transparency Act is the latest measure aimed at strengthening equality standards for Illinois workers. The state recently enacted an amended Equal Pay Act that will ban employers from making salary history inquiries, effective Sept. 29, 2019.