Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Proposed Law Regarding Sexual Harassment Training in Restaurants

As a business law attorney, I am acutely aware of how important is for business owners to prevent, identify, and combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination that could leave a business financially responsible for a wide range of financial damages.

In recent years, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct have taken center stage in the public consciousness, and many high-profile individuals have been called out for their destructive behavior. Such harassment, however, is not just a problem for celebrities like actors, musicians, and politicians. It happens every day in workplaces around the state and across the country. In an effort to address the issue in at least one industry, a bill was introduced in Illinois earlier this year that would require sexual harassment training for all restaurant employees in the state.

An Ambitious Idea

House Bill 3351 (HB3351), also called the Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act, was introduced last month by Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), and it is currently under review in the House Executive Committee. The proposed law would apply to all restaurants operating within the state of Illinois and would require new hires to receive sexual harassment training within 30 days of being hired. Existing employees would be required to undergo training within 90 days of the bill’s enactment. The law would also require refresher training every two years.

Under the provisions of the bill, the mandatory training for all employees would include:

A definition of sexual harassment, including both quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment;

A discussion of how sexual harassment can affect victims, the business, and harassers;

An explanation on recognizing appropriate and inappropriate conduct in the workplace; and

An explanation of how and when to report instances of harassment.

Training for supervisors and managers would include the above-listed topics as well as:

Discussions about manager and employer responsibilities related to reporting sexual harassment and addressing negative behaviors;

How to develop a workplace culture that is free from sexual harassment; and

Explanation regarding investigating claims of sexual harassment made by employees.

According to the bill, the training program would need to be customized to the restaurant industry and hospitality-related fields, including food-service-themed images, activities, and videos. The training could be accomplished through online modules, classroom instruction, or remote training, and the course must be made available in both English and Spanish. The bill also creates a non-compliance fine of $500 for a first violation and $1,000 for any subsequent violations.

A DuPage County Business Lawyer Can Help You Fight Sexual Harassment

Whether HB3511 becomes a law or not, sexual harassment in the workplace is a concern for every business owner and must be taken seriously. For help with developing or implementing your company’s anti-harassment policy, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney today. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm.

Sources:

The National Law Review

Illinois General Assembly: Restaurant Anti-Harassment Act

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