FILE - New Mexico, training, sexual misconduct and harassment

Human Resources consultant Linda Strauss, left, provides training to some 40 registered New Mexico political lobbyists on how to recognize, prevent and report sexual misconduct and harassment in 2018 in Santa Fe.

One of the hundreds of new laws taking effect next Wednesday in Illinois will require nearly all employees in the state to take harassment training and small businesses have been working to comply with the new requirement.

The new law that takes effect Jan. 1 will put in place a requirement that employers require employees to complete harassment training. Restaurants have a different type of training requirement. 

One of the most significant changes to state law is that discrimination only has to be "perceived," said Andrew Rawson, co-founder of the training company Traliant.

“Adding the word 'perceived' in there is a lot of latitude because now it’s a bit of unlawful discrimination that’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said.

Since a worker filing a complaint has legal work done by the state government, Rawson said there is little monetary disincentive for them to lodge a formal issue. 

“All of the cost of defending the claim all rests with the individual business,” he said. 

In the months since the law was passed in August, Traliant has been working with Illinois companies to ensuring compliance, but Rawson said not everyone is happy about it.

“The overriding sentiment is that it is an additional burden but it’s for a good cause,” he said. 

Many small businesses were shielded from compliance with many issues like this, but another law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker requires all businesses to adhere to the Human Rights Act, not just businesses with a minimum number of workers.

California, New York, Maine, Connecticut, and Delaware all have laws requiring harassment training. 

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.