Protecting Employers Since 1985

August 2012

By: Jennifer Adams Murphy, Esq. and Ryan L. Young, Esq.

Fact of the Month

The definition of “employer” also includes any person employing one or more employees when an individual alleges a violation of the Act based on their physical or mental handicap or sexual harassment. See 778 ILCS 5/2-101(B)(1)(b).

1. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act (Act), an “employer” includes any person employing ______ or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation.

a. 15

b. 25

c. 50

d. 100

2. How many days after an alleged civil rights violation occurs does an individual have to file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights?

a. 60

b. 120

c. 180

d. 365

e. There is no statute of limitation period for civil rights violations.

3. Bob owns a nuclear energy plant in Illinois. He implements a plant-wide policy that requires all employees to speak English at all times, including time spent on rest breaks. Has Bob violated the Act, yes or no?

4. Bob recently saw a movie where a crazy scientist and his teenage sidekick use a plutonium-fueled automobile to travel back in time. Bob worried that his nuclear energy plant (which produces plutonium) might be a target for thievery due to people trying to send themselves back in time. Bob starts performing authorized criminal background checks on all of his applicants. Bob notices that one applicant, Biff, was arrested for assault and battery; however, the background check contains no other brushes with the law. Can Bob refuse to hire Biff for this arrest?


Question 1.

Answer: A. See 775 ILCS 5/2-101(B). But see 778 ILCS 5/2-101(B)(1)(b), the Test Your Knowledge Fact of the Month.

Question 2.

Answer: C. See 775 ILCS 5/7A-102(A). Additionally, the charge must have enough detail to inform any concerned party to the time, place, and facts surrounding the alleged civil rights violation.

Question 3.

Answer: Yes. Under the Act, it is a civil rights violation for an employer to impose a restriction that has the effect of prohibiting employees from speaking another language in communications that are unrelated to the employees’ duties. See 775 ILCS 5/2-101(B)(1)(b). While Bob certainly has a safety interest in ensuring that everyone speaks English while performing their job duties, his policy extends to communications that are unrelated to the employees’ duties (i.e. where his safety interest is not at stake).

Question 4.

Answer: No. Under the Act, it is a civil rights violation for an employer to use the fact of an arrest to refuse to hire an applicant. See 775 ILCS 5/2-103. Note, the Act does not prevent an employer from relying on a conviction to refuse to hire an applicant; however, the Illinois Department of Human Rights adopted guidelines which state that an employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant because of a conviction unless the nature of the individual’s convictions, along with the surrounding circumstances and the individual’s subsequent behavior, reveals the individual as objectively unfit for the job in question.

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