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Illinois - Catching Up To California?!

Under the tripartite leadership of Pritzker, Madigan and Cullerton, Illinois is quickly attempting to "catch up" to California as a very pro-employee State.

Here are a few examples of the tripartite recent developments:

  1. Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act - Effective January 1, 2019, employers must reimburse employees for all "necessary expenses that inure to the primary benefit of the employer". These expenses may constitute costs for computers, cell phones, uniforms, et cetera and employers should review their policies to determine what these "necessary expenditures" will be.
  2. Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act - Effective August, 2018. The Act requires Employers to provide "reasonable paid breaks to Mothers for nursing or expressing milk within one (1) year of a child's birth". While these breaks may run concurrently with other break times, an Employer cannot reduce an Employee's pay for any additional time taken and used for nursing or expressing milk. If an Employer refuses to provide these breaks, it must meet the very demanding standard that providing the breaks that would be on "undue hardship on the Employer".
  3. Illinois Equal Pay Act - Effective January 1, 2019. The Equal Pay Act was expanded to provide specific protections for African-American Employees by expressly prohibiting Employers from paying African-American Employees who are "performing the same or substantially similar work" less than other Employees. The Amendments also established that Employers "may not discriminate" on the basis of sex under the same standard. Protections were also put in place that Employers cannot require Employees to enter into contracts prohibiting them from discussing their wages, salary, benefits or other compensation and that an Employer cannot screen job applicants based on current or past wages or salaries or require an applicant to disclose wage or salary history.
  4. Illinois Minimum Wage - Effective January 1, 2020 statewide minimum wage increased to $9.25 and will again increase on July 1, 2020 to $10.00 an hour with a dollar ($1.00) an hour increases each subsequent year (in July) until it reaches $15.00 an hour. It should also be noted that Cook County, Illinois and the City of Chicago have established even a higher minimum wage - Cook County effective July 1, 2019 at $12.00 an hour and Chicago effective July 1, 2019 at $13.00 an hour.
  5. Workplace Transparency Act - Employers and Employees cannot create Severance, Separation or Settlement Agreements to include non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses for claims of harassment or discrimination unless both parties are in agreement to those clauses for a claim that arose prior to the signing of the agreement and the Employee is given Twenty-One (21) calendar days after presentation of the agreement to consider whether to sign it and Seven (7) calendar days after execution to revoke the Agreement. As well, the Workplace Transparency Act will require Employers to do mandatory reporting to the Illinois Department of Human Rights regarding any settlement adverse judgment or adverse administrative ruling in the past five (5) years dealing with sexual harassment and discrimination and, as well, establish an annual training for employees with regard to harassment.
  6. Illinois Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act - As of May 29, 2019, Illinois became the first state to regulate the use of Artificial Intelligence by Employers which require an Employer, wanting to evaluate and use video job interviews for the interview, that the Employer must notify the candidate that it will be using Artificial Intelligence to analyze the interview and advise the Employee of what characteristics will be evaluated and procure consent of the candidate prior to the interview. As well, if the candidate requests, the Employer must destroy copies of the interview within the Employer's possession and in the "possession of any other entity" within thirty (30) calendar days of the receipt for request to delete the video.

Obviously, Pritzker, Madigan and Cullerton and Illinois Lawmakers are on a mission to increase Employee protections. How this will play out with their desire to "increase tax base" and "business development" in Illinois remains to be seen. It is crucial that Employers review their policies and begin to revise those policies to comply with the reinvigorated pro-Employee stance in the State of Illinois.

Questions? Contact Attorney Walter J. Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at [email protected].

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