Protecting Employers Since 1985

Three New Laws Affecting Employers Became Effective January 1, 2018

I. Illinois Amends State Genetic Information Privacy Act

Illinois has amended the state Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA).

Amended Law

Under the amendment, an employer is prohibited from penalizing an employee who does not disclose his or her genetic information or does not choose to participate in a program requiring disclosure of the employee’s genetic information. Under existing law, employers are generally prohibited from using genetic information or genetic testing in furtherance of a workplace wellness program benefiting employees, unless certain conditions are met.

Background

Under GIPA, employers must treat genetic testing and genetic information in such a manner that is consistent with the requirements of federal law (e.g., GINA, the ADA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the FMLA, and OSHA).

Among other things, employers are prohibited from soliciting, requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic testing or genetic information of a person (or a family member), or administering a genetic test to a person (or a family member) as a condition of employment or pre-employment application.

The amended law went into effect on January 1, 2018. Click here to read the text of the law.

II. Illinois Amends Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection Act

Illinois has amended its Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection Act. Highlights of the changes are presented below.

Amended Law

An employer generally may not discipline an employee who is a volunteer emergency worker if the employee responds to an emergency phone call or text message during work hours that requests the person’s volunteer emergency services.

However, the law does not diminish or supersede an employer’s written workplace policy, a collective bargaining agreement, administrative guidelines, or its other applicable written rules. Existing written policies governing the use of cell phones prevail and control.

Background

Under the Illinois Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection Act, an employer generally may not terminate an employee who is a volunteer emergency worker because the employee is absent from or late to his or her employment in order to respond to an emergency prior to the time the employee is to report to work.

Click on the link above to read the text of the amended law. The law went into effect on January 1, 2018.

III. Schools Must Accommodate Nursing Mothers

State lawmakers voted to make Illinois the second state after California, to require public schools (including charter schools) to provide accommodations for lactating students. The law went into effect January 1, 2018. Currently, lactating mothers in Illinois are exempt from jury duty and the state has developed several state-funded breastfeeding education programs. Airports in Illinois are required to have accommodations for lactating mothers as well.

According the new law regarding nursing mothers, public schools, including charter schools, must provide space for nursing mothers in a private and secure room with an electrical outlet, other than a bathroom. Under the law, students will be permitted to bring any equipment needed to express their breast milk (i.e. breast pump). Additionally, students must have access to a refrigerator to store their milk. The student cannot be penalized for time they spend pumping or breast-feeding.

For more information and/or questions regarding the above information, please contact Attorney Joseph Laverty in our Davenport office at (563) 333-9102 or via email at jolaverty@wesselssherman.com.

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