Last-Minute Negotiations Result In Expanded Worker Protections.

While media coverage of the closing moments of the Spring legislative session focused on recreational marijuana, taxes and infrastructure, Illinois lawmakers quietly were leveraging the momentum created by the #MeToo movement to pass the Workplace Transparency Act.

Since we last reported on the bill here, lawmakers have expanded its scope to impose new obligations on employers. The new bill, SB0075, which passed both houses just before the legislature recessed and can be found here would:

  • Mandate that employers conduct annual sexual harassment training and prescribe the content for the training, with special measures required for employees of restaurants and bars.
  • Amend the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) to require employers to grant leave to victims of gender violence. Currently, VESSA entitles workers leave from employment only for domestic violence and sexual violence. This change follows on the heels of an Illinois Appellate Court’s groundbreaking ruling that employers can be sued for gender-related violence under the Illinois Gender Violence Act, which we previously reported here.
  • Prohibit employers from requiring workers to sign agreements that require them to keep confidential concerns of sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation, with some exceptions. It also would require employers to disclose some settlement agreements.
  • Extend the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) to prohibit harassment against independent contractors under certain conditions and expands the “working environment” protected by the law to include places outside the physical location to which employees are assigned to perform their duties.

The bill, which Governor Pritzker is expected to sign, would become law January 1, 2020.

In other developments, the Illinois Legislature passed a separate bill affecting employers who use artificial intelligence to screen video interviews, and the Chicago City Council reintroduced a predictable work scheduling ordinance that previously was voted down prior to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s inauguration. We will share more details on these and other initiatives in future posts, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can read more about the legislative effort to pass a predictable scheduling law here.

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Gary Savine is an Illinois employment lawyer and founder of Savine Employment Law, Ltd. in Chicago. Gary regularly advises human resources professionals on recently enacted employment laws.