From Lexology, Jessica E. Chang and Johner T. Wilson III report on new legislation in Illinois that extends protections from harassment to non-employees, including independent contractors. Jessica and Johner write:
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed comprehensive legislation on Aug. 9 aimed to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. This omnibus legislation, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, imposes significant new responsibilities on employers.
Workplace Transparency Act
One of the new laws created in this legislation is the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA). It addresses many aspects of workplace discrimination and harassment, including limiting non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses, limiting arbitration agreements, mandating sexual harassment training, expanding protection to nonemployees, and requiring annual disclosures. Employers who do not comply with the reporting and training requirements may be subject to monetary penalties.
Expanding Protection to Nonemployees
WTA amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) to extend protection from harassment to include nonemployees, which includes contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants. Employers could be held liable for harassment that substantially interferes with a nonemployee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment as members of a protected class. However, employers are only liable for harassment by a non-managerial and/or non-supervisory employee if the employer became aware of the conduct and failed to take reasonable corrective measures.