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Chicago Expands Required Sexual Harassment Training to Include “Bystander Intervention”; Will Others Follow?
Chicago Expands Required Sexual Harassment Training to Include “Bystander Intervention”; Will Others Follow?

Effective July 1, 2022, employers with at least one employee working in the City of Chicago must provide Chicago-based employees with sexual harassment prevention training. The City’s Human Rights Ordinance now requires one hour of annual training for all employees and a second hour of training for managers/supervisors. In addition, in what appears to be a unique requirement, all employees must also receive one hour of “Bystander Intervention” training.

Bystander Intervention is defined by the City as “safe and positive actions” a person may take to “prevent harm or intervene where there is a risk or perceived risk of sexual harassment.” The training includes topics such as recognizing potential harassment and strategies for when and how to intervene.        

In recent years, several states (such as Illinois, California and New York) and some cities have enacted sexual harassment training requirements for employers subject to the state law or municipal ordinance against harassment. Each of these has differing requirements as to who must be trained and how often. Each also generally has specific requirements as to what must be covered in the training. Chicago’s Bystander Intervention training requirement may be a new tool that these or other states adopt as they continue to show concern for addressing potential harassment.

Illinois has had a state requirement for employee sexual harassment training for the past two years. Compliance with the Illinois state requirement satisfies the Chicago requirement for the one hour employee training. The Chicago ordinance goes beyond the state requirement by mandating additional supervisor training, as well as the Bystander Intervention training.

The City has published model training templates for all of the required training, including Bystander Intervention training. Employers are not required to use the City’s templates, but all training must be at least as extensive as the City models. These can be found at https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cchr/supp_info/SexualHarassmentTrainingMaterials.html .

In addition to training, the Illinois and Chicago harassment laws include other requirements such as developing written policies, postings, and notices to employees. Information on the Illinois requirements, including a training template, can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/Training/Pages/State-of-Illinois-Sexual-Harassment-Prevention-Training-Model.aspx. The requirements of the Chicago ordinance are detailed at https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cchr/supp_info/sexual-harassment.html

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