The Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) is a significant development for both Illinois employers and employees. As an employer in Illinois, you must understand the nitty-gritty of the bill and assess how it can impact your business.
Here’s what you need to know about the Workplace Transparency Act.
What is the Workplace Transparency Act?
The WTA, which impacts thousands of employers in Illinois, limits the addition of non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions in employment, separation, and settlement agreements.
In simpler terms, employers cannot use non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions to stop employees from disclosing or providing truthful statements regarding suspected illegal and unlawful employment terms and conditions. The WTA also requires employers to conduct anti-harassment training every year. It applies to full-time, part-time, and contractual employees.
The WTA came into effect on January 1, 2020. California and New York passed similar laws in the past to protect employees from workplace-related discrimination and harassment.
How Often Do Employers Need to Report to IDHR?
As of July 1, 2020, all Illinois employers need to disclose yearly to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) the total number of administrative rulings and adverse judgments in the previous year in discrimination and sexual harassment cases, irrespective of the final judgment. The IDHR will then publish a yearly report based on the data provided by all the employers; however, no employer will be called out publicly.
If required, the WTA also permits the IDHR to ask employers to disclose the total number of administrative rulings and adverse judgments in discrimination and sexual harassment cases in the last five years.
Yearly Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
As of January 1, 2020, all Illinois employers have to organize annual sexual harassment prevention training for their employees. Employers can develop their own annual sexual harassment training program or leverage a model training program issued by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). In case employers wish to develop their own annual sexual harassment training program, they should ensure it comprises:
- An understanding of sexual harassment per the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)
- Examples of workplace-related sexual harassment
- A brief on different federal and statutory provisions that concern sexual harassment
- Different remedies available to sexual harassment victims
- Responsibilities of the employer in the fight against sexual harassment
Also, if you run a bar or restaurant, as an employer, you may have to fulfill certain policy requirements and complete supplemental training under the WTA.
What Happens When Employers Fail to Make the Necessary Disclosures?
Employers who fail to disclose the required data or organize the yearly sexual harassment training can be penalized by Illinois’ civil authorities. The penalties can range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the number of violations and employees.