Bill Would Expand Law To Cover Virtually All Illinois Employers

By the end of this week, there’s a very good chance that the Illinois Legislature will place on Governor Pritzker’s desk for his signature HB0252 – a bill that would eliminate the minimum employee threshold for anti-discrimination prohibitions in the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA). This will make virtually any employer with as few as one employee subject to all anti-discrimination prohibitions in the IHRA.

Currently, companies with less than fifteen employees are subject only to anti-discrimination prohibitions covering sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and disability discrimination. But, if a company grows beyond fifteen employees, it is then subject to prohibitions on other forms of discrimination, like age and race. Similarly, the major federal anti-discrimination laws, like Title VII, apply only to employers with fifteen or more employees.

In 2018, the Illinois legislature passed a similar bill expanding coverage of the IHRA, but then-Governor Rauner vetoed the bill shortly before the November 2018 elections.

If passed, the bill would amend the IHRA’s definition of a covered employer to mirror the coverage under the City of Chicago and Cook County Human Rights Ordinances. But unlike those ordinances, the bill would expand anti-discrimination coverage to small employers across the entire state and give employees the right to file suit in state court.

The current draft of HB0252 provides a limited exemption for employers that are places of worship.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

And its status can be checked here.

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Gary Savine is an Illinois employment lawyer and founder of Savine Employment Law, Ltd. in Chicago. Gary regularly litigates employment discrimination cases. The firm represents employees and employers