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Chicago Clarifies the Scope of the City’s Harassment Training Law

Chicago Clarifies the Scope of the City’s Harassment Training Law

When mandatory harassment training laws go into effect, there is always confusion and ambiguity about several aspects of the legislation.

Many employers are left scrambling to meet with employment counsel to determine whether and how the new law(s) apply to them, and how they need to go about complying with often burdensome requirements. One such ambiguity existed in Chicago’s new law, (enacted in July 2022). The law requires employers to provide one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to non-supervisory employees, two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisory employees, and one additional hour of bystander intervention training to all employees.

The Chicago law requires every “employer” to conduct the mandatory trainings per section 6-10-040(b)(1)(C). However, the definition of “employer” contained in section 6-10-020 requires either a business license within the City or a physical business presence in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, this led many employment counsel to advise their clients that unless they meet the definition of “employer” provided by this section, they may not need to comply with the requirements of the law. Unfortunately for those employers seeking to avoid the additional time expense associated with the Chicago law, this will not be the case.

Remote Employees Clearly Subject to Chicago’s Harassment Training Requirements

As is common practice when a new law is enacted, the city of Chicago released a series of “FAQ” upon enactment of the law. When the site containing the questions was published, the document was silent as to what employers must comply with the law (other than a reference to the definition contained in the Chicago Municipal Code). Chicago has recently updated the FAQ to remove the ambiguity in the law’s applicability, and the City now has published the following question and answer:

Q: My business has employees who occasionally work within the geographical boundaries of Chicago. Is my business required to maintain a sexual harassment policy, place the poster in the workplace, and conduct sexual harassment training?

A: Yes. The policy and posting requirements of the new sexual harassment protections apply to all employers (Chicago Municipal Code Sec. 6-10-020) whose employees work in Chicago.  The training requirement applies for all employees who work in Chicago, even if remote, and their managers or supervisors, even if the managers or supervisors work outside of Chicago.

The City now clearly references not just the Code defined employees discussed above, but also specifically states that even remote employees working for a Chicago employer and those who manage or supervise employees for a Chicago employer must take the training. This is a massive clarification that subjects a great number of individuals previously thought to not need the training to a minimum of two (and in supervisor cases three) hours of sexual harassment and bystander intervention training.

Employers Must Partner with a Provider who will Stay on top of Changes in the Law

Compliance with mandatory sexual harassment training laws has never been more difficult. While the individual facts of each situation dictate a necessity to have a conversation with employment counsel to determine which employees need what training, it is always a good idea to be over-inclusive in providing harassment training. Suppose you even think an employee may be subject to a mandatory training law. In that case, there are a variety of reasons why it is a good idea to offer the program proactively rather than find out later that training was required and not given.

Syntrio welcomes the opportunity to discuss with members of your organization the various methods we have developed to comply with mandatory harassment training laws (including Illinois and Chicago) while improving your organizational culture. Given our industry-leading Chicago sexual harassment training products contain not just the required elements, but also touch on topics such as civility and respect (and other means of improving organizational culture), your employees will not only leave the training fully cognizant of how to prevent sexual harassment (and how to intervene as a bystander) but also knowing their employer cares about their well-being and mental health.

Syntrio’s products are the industry leader because we understand how to deliver the message in a way that will resonate with the user. Unlike many products in the marketplace, we keep the learner engaged and eager to learn more. Contact a staff member today to see how we can partner with your organization to keep your culture moving forward. As time passes and more harassment training requirements go into effect, you must work with a provider who will not only provide you with compliant training but also work directly to tailor an education program that delivers the opportunity for cultural improvement. Syntrio’s products are delivered.

Promote an Affirmative Workplace Culture with Harassment and Discrimination Training

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management. Jonathan focuses his practice on advising employers on the prevention of harassment and discrimination issues, with an emphasis on providing in-person harassment training programs to companies of all sizes. Jonathan is licensed in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and maintains a national advice practice.

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