Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice, nor does it contain every detail or requirement of the applicable laws: it is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be relied upon. If you have questions about these laws, please consult your legal counsel.

In recent years, the conversation surrounding sexual harassment has evolved significantly, catalyzed by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. As awareness spreads, so too does the need for comprehensive sexual harassment training, particularly in the workplace.

Chicago, like many other cities and states in the U.S., has established legal frameworks to address sexual harassment in the workplace. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the essential aspects of sexual harassment prevention training, review the legal framework, and offer up best practices for building a respectful work environment in the Windy City.

Defining sexual harassment

Before diving into the specifics of training requirements, we need to understand what constitutes sexual harassment. Generally speaking, sexual harassment encompasses unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It creates a hostile work environment, affecting an individual’s job performance and overall well-being. Recognizing the various forms of sexual harassment, including quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment, is essential for both employees and employers.

Acts that Chicago may consider sexual harassment include:

  • Repeated, unwelcome sexually suggestive comments, gestures, e-mails, or pictures
  • Unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature
  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for an employment benefit such as a raise or promotion
  • Subtle or direct threats that a sexual or personal relationship is required for employment, promotion, or other favorable treatment in the workplace
  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for an agreement to rent an apartment or make repairs
  • Subtle or direct threats that a sexual or personal relationship is required to continue a rental agreement for housing

Understanding Chicago’s legal framework

Employers in Chicago are subject to both federal and state laws governing sexual harassment prevention. The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provide the primary legal foundation for addressing workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.

Additionally, the City of Chicago has its own ordinances that supplement existing state and federal laws. The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance (CHRO) prohibits sexual harassment in employment and provides avenues for victims to seek recourse. Under CHRO, employers with one or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees within specified time frames. More on that below.

Key components of anti-harassment training in Chicago

In Chicago, sexual harassment training requirements are outlined in the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance. Employers subject to CHRO must ensure that all employees receive sexual harassment prevention training. Key aspects of the training requirements include:

Frequency and duration

Employees must undergo sexual harassment prevention training within 30 calendar days of initial employment or within 30 calendar days. All employees must complete one hour of sexual harassment training and one hour of bystander intervention training. Managers/supervisors must complete two hours of sexual harassment training, as well as one hour of bystander intervention training.

Subsequent training must take place at least once every two years.


Training programs must cover the definition of sexual harassment, examples of prohibited conduct, reporting procedures, and the consequences of engaging in harassment. The training must also address bystander intervention and strategies for creating a respectful workplace.


Employers must ensure that training materials are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities or language barriers. Providing training in multiple languages and formats can help reach diverse workforces effectively.


Employers must retain written records of the trainings provided for at least five years, or the duration of any claim, civil action or investigation pending (whichever is longer).

Sexual harassment policy

In addition to training, Chicago employers are required to develop, implement, and distribute a sexual harassment policy to all employees. The policy must include:

  • Statement that sexual harassment is illegal in Chicago
  • Definition of sexual harassment as defined in the Chicago Municipal Code Section 6-010-020
  • Requirement that all employees participate in annual sexual harassment prevention training and bystander intervention training
  • Examples of prohibited conduct
  • Details on how to report sexual harassment and legal services available to employees who may be victims of sexual harassment
  • Statement that retaliation is prohibited

How to comply with Chicago’s anti-harassment training requirements

While meeting the above minimum training requirements is essential for compliance in Connecticut, businesses can go above and beyond to create meaningful and impactful training programs. Here are some best practices we recommend:

  1. Create tailored training: Customize training programs to suit the specific needs and challenges of your business. Incorporate real-life scenarios and examples relevant to your industry and workplace culture.
  2. Involve leadership: Encourage leadership to demonstrate commitment to preventing sexual harassment by having them actively participating in and promoting training initiatives. When employees see that leadership takes harassment prevention seriously, they’re more likely to engage in the training process.
  3. Take an interactive approach: Leverage interactive training methods such as webinars, classrooms, quizzes to engage employees and facilitate active learning. Interactive sessions encourage participation and help reinforce key concepts.
  4. Ongoing education: Sexual harassment training should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than just a one-time event. Provide refresher courses and updates to ensure that employees stay informed about evolving issues and best practices.
  5. Encourage reporting: Build a culture of trust and transparency where employees feel comfortable reporting incidents of harassment without fear of retaliation. Clearly communicate reporting procedures and provide multiple avenues for reporting.
  6. Accountability: Hold employees accountable for their behavior and enforce consequences for engaging in harassment. Consistent enforcement of policies sends a clear message that harassment will not be tolerated.

The final word

In Chicago, sexual harassment training is a critical step towards creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace. By understanding the state’s legal framework, meeting training requirements, and implementing these best practices, employers can create workplaces where all employees can thrive — free from harassment.

Demystify compliance training with Ethena

Investing in comprehensive sexual harassment prevention training is more than just a compliance measure; it’s a commitment to upholding dignity, equity, and respect. At Ethena, we’re committed to making corporate compliance training so good it sticks. In fact, ineffective harassment prevention training was the catalyst for why we were founded.

Today, our modern and engaging approach to learning goes beyond check-the-box regulation requirements. Ethena’s Harassment Prevention training course inspires learners to foster healthy, inclusive, and squeaky clean workplaces.