Chicago-based employment expert explains how IL employers will have new training requirements soon
It was recently revealed that several professors and one staff member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been accused of sexual harassment. As the University faces criticism for not handling these cases swiftly and with transparency, upcoming changes to Illinois employment law such as the Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”) could change the way Illinois employers handle such cases in the future.
Employment expert Rob Wilson says that the UIUC case offers an opportunity for Illinois employers to better examine their policies regarding sexual harassment, especially as new regulations are going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
“If you are an Illinois-based employer or you have at least one employee located in Illinois, you will now have new requirements for sexual harassment prevention,” explains Wilson, who is the President of national employment solutions firm Employco USA, which is based in Chicagoland. “You must provide sexual harassment training to all of your employees at least once a year. Additionally, the Workplace Transparency Act will prevent employers from using confidentiality clauses to protect employees or hide past charges, as U of I is accused of doing in these recent sexual harassment cases.”
Wilson also says that those in the hospitality industry will have even stricter requirements, including providing additional training and policies for new hires within 7 days of workers beginning employment.
“Some environments such as the restaurant world are simply rife with sexual harassment complaints. Indeed, these workers file more sexual harassment claims than any other industry, with as many as 90% of women and 70% of men saying they experienced some form of sexual harassment while on the job,” says Wilson. “Hence, Illinois lawmakers are really trying to crack down on this abuse and they are requiring employers to take a more proactive role in protecting their staff.”
However, as evidenced by the recent U of I scandal, it would behoove all employers to take a sterner approach when it comes to sexual harassment complaints.
“It is natural for employers to want to avoid negative press and keep sexual harassment quiet, but as evidenced by what is happening at U of I right now, hiding these cases leads to worse PR in the long run,” says Wilson. “Not to mention, it allows more of your employees to be victimized. Handling each case seriously and with transparency is going to protect you in the long run, as well as your workers.”
For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.