New Year, New and Amended Employment Laws

Over the past year, the Illinois General Assembly andemployer-v-employee-defamation Chicago City Council have enacted or modified several laws and ordinances that affect employers. Sifting through the specific legal language can be tricky, so we’ve summarized the most important changes that are relevant to employers.

Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (NMWA)

Effective August 21, 2018, an amendment to NMWA requires employers to pay for “reasonable break time” spent expressing milk. Previously, NMWA provided that pumping breaks “must, if possible” run concurrently with other break times. The new amendment now prohibits employers from requiring employees to pump during their break time. In addition, employers cannot reduce pay for pumping breaks and can only restrict employees from pumping if it causes “undue hardship” on the employer.

Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)

Effective August 21, 2018, three amendments were made to IHRA that are likely to increase the number of claims brought against employers:

  1. Employees have 300 calendar days (instead of 180) from the date of an alleged civil rights violation to file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”).
  2. The Illinois Human Rights Commission will receive additional resources that will help expedite the administrative process for resolving alleged civil rights violations.
  3. Employees may now opt out of IDHR’s administrative investigation to immediately bring a lawsuit in Illinois state courts.

Illinois Wage Payment Collection Act (IWPCA)

Effective January 1, 2019, amendments to IWPCA require employers to reimburse employees for necessary expenditures that are directly related to services performed for their employers. This includes expenses incurred via “bring your own device” policies “which require employees to use personal cell phones, tablets, or computers for work purposes.” As a result of this amendment, employers should have an established expense reimbursement policy that includes:

  1. The types of expenses that are reimbursable;
  2. The amount or proportion of the expense that is eligible for reimbursement;
  3. The type of documentation required for reimbursement; and
  4. The time period within which employees must submit documents to qualify for reimbursement.

Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA)

Effective January 1, 2019, an amendment to IEPA prohibits employers from paying African Americans less than non-African Americans who are performing the same or substantially similar work. Previously, IEPA was limited to ensuring equal pay amongst men and women. Although this amendment is new to Illinois law, federal laws already provided such protections to African Americans.

Illinois Service Member Employment Rights & Reemployment Act (ISERRA)

Effective January 1, 2019, the rights of Illinois employees serving in the military will be governed by ISERRA, which was passed to protect the employment and benefits of service members who take a leave of absence from employment due to military service. ISERRA has expanded the definition of “military service” to include: (1) service in an auxiliary of the United States Armed Forces as the result of an emergency; (2) service in the Illinois State Guard; and (3) absences caused by illness or injury sustained or aggravated during a period of active service.

City of Chicago Office of Labor Standards (OLS)

Established January 1, 2019, OLS will investigate and respond to employee complaints under the City of Chicago’s employment laws, including but not limited to minimum wage, paid sick time, and anti-wage theft laws. These complaints were previously handled by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which remains responsible for business licensing and enforcement of consumer fraud ordinances. This change will likely result in more claims being brought against employers by the City of Chicago.

If you have any questions about any of these newly effective laws or amendments, please contact Marcus & Boxerman at (312) 216-2720 or

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