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Sexual Harassment Training Will Soon Become Mandatory In Illinois Workplaces

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Joseph McKinley
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via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Beginning in January, all Illinois employers will have to start providing sexual harassment training for their employees.

It’s part of a new law called the Workplace Transparency Act. Every employer of any size, whether public or private, will now have to provide training based on a model the state’s Department of Human Rights will come up with. That department will offer a training course for free, or employers can opt to buy courses from a private company.

Andrew Rawson is with Traliant, which is one of those companies. He said he new training requirement will help workers understand the consequences of sexual harassment.

“It’s not a knowledge deficit," he explained. "That’s the not the problem. The problem is people knowing that they shouldn’t do things and doing them anyway.”

Rawson said mandating training is just one part of combatting harassment.

“It will make a difference if you use modern training coupled with a real cultural commitment to have a place where people want to come to work every day," he said.

Businesses will have until the end of next year to provide harassment training. New employees will have to be trained within 90 days of their start date.

Non-disclosure agreements and other documents intended to keep employees silent will be limited under the new law. Representative Ann Williams, one of the sponsors of the measure, says that’s designed to give workers wide latitude to report potentially illegal behavior to authorities.

Illinois is one of a handful of states, including California and New York, that require harassment training by law.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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