Workplace Transparency Act
On August 9, 2019, Governor Pritzker approved the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA), a sweeping piece of legislation that imposes a variety of restrictions and requirements on employers relating to workplace discrimination and harassment. The WTA:
- Places limitations on employment and arbitration agreements involving claims of discrimination or harassment.
- Expands the definitions of discrimination, harassment and working environment.
- Expands the application of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) to “nonemployees” such as contractors and consultants.
- Expands liability for the harassment/sexual harassment by an employer’s nonmanagerial and nonsupervisory employees to “nonemployees.”
- Expands the definition of violence to include gender violence.
- Imposes new disclosure requirements on employers annually, including the total number of settlements entered that relate to alleged acts of sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination or total number of adverse judgments.
- Requires annual sexual harassment prevention training.
- Imposes a sexual harassment policy requirement for restaurants and bars.
Illinois employers should begin familiarizing themselves with these wholesale changes ahead of the new year. A complete breakdown of updates is available here. Employers can also tune into Faegre Baker Daniels’ September 17 webinar for an in-depth exploration of the WTA’s requirements, as well as best compliance practices.
Recommended Next Steps
The WTA will largely go into effect on January 1, 2020 (with the exception of the employer disclosure requirement, which takes effect on July 1, 2020). Here is a checklist of recommended steps an employer should take immediately to ensure compliance with the WTA:
Review employment contracts for nondisclosure and/or non-disparagement clauses for claims of harassment or discrimination.
Review separation agreements for nondisclosure and/or non-disparagement clauses for claims of harassment or discrimination and make sure:
- The claim at issue arose before the agreement was executed.
- The parties agree on the nondisclosure and/or non-disparagement clause.
- The employee/applicant had 21 days to consider the agreement before executing.
- The employee/applicant had seven calendar days following the execution of the agreement to revoke the agreement.
Review arbitration agreements for the inclusion of discrimination and harassment claims.
Review discrimination policy to incorporate expanded definitions.
Review harassment policy to incorporate expanded definitions.
Review anti-retaliation policy to incorporate expanded definitions.
Retrain nonmanagerial and nonsupervisory employees on harassment/sexual harassment policies.
Review employee handbooks to incorporate expanded definitions.
Review leave policies to incorporate expanded definition of gender violence.
Prepare for mandatory reporting requirements.
Prepare sexual harassment policy to distribute to new employees (restaurant and bar employers only).
Review internal sexual harassment training program.