Governor J.B. Pritzker has enacted several sweeping employment laws that will take effect starting at the beginning of 2020. A brief summary of the extensive changes are listed below:
Workplace Transparency Act
The Workplace Transparency Act (WTA) will take effect January 1, 2020. The new law:
- Prohibits employers from entering into any employee agreements or enacting any employment policies that require employees or applicants to keep allegations of harassment or discrimination confidential; and
- Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees or applicants for “reporting, resisting, opposing, or assisting in the investigation of harassment or discrimination.”
Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act
Amendments to the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) take effect January 1, 2020 and add a category of protection for victims of “gender violence.” VESSA currently allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to take unpaid protected leave.
Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act
The new Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act takes effect July 1, 2020 and will:
- Require hotels and casinos to give all employees who work alone in a guest room, bathroom, or casino floor, a free, portable emergency contact device that can be used to summon help if the employee reasonably believes there is an ongoing crime, sexual harassment or assault, or other emergency; and
- Require hotels and casinos to develop, maintain, and comply with a written anti-sexual harassment policy.
Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)
Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) take effect July 1, 2020 and will:
- Change the definition of “employer” from employers with at least 15 employees to any entity that employs one more persons;
- Expand the definition of “unlawful discrimination” to include discrimination against a person because of his or her actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or unfavorable discharge from the military;
- Change the definition of “harassment” to be “unwelcome conduct” on the bases of a person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or unfavorable discharge from the military, that “has purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment;”
- Expand the definition of “working environment” beyond just the physical locations employees perform their duties;
- Prohibit harassment by an employer against non-employees, including contractors, consultants, and anyone else performing services for the employer;
- Require employers to annually disclose to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) any adverse judgement or administrative ruling against them in the preceding calendar year;
- Require every employer with employees working in Illinois to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training. The IDHR will establish a publicly available model training program that employers may use. Alternatively, employers may implement their own training as long as it stays within compliance of the model program; and
- Require bars and restaurants (including coffee shops, cafeterias, and catering facilities) to provide a written sexual harassment policy to all employees within the first calendar week of employment.
It is strongly recommended that employers begin reviewing their employment agreements, policies on harassment and discrimination, and sexual harassment training programs to comply with these new laws. If you have any questions about how to review your employment materials or how these new laws will affect your business, please contact Marcus & Boxerman at (312) 216-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.