As the new year begins, employers need to be aware of several new employment laws passed into law by Illinois in 2019 that take effect January 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020. Illinois employers of any size should take note of the new laws and take this time as the calendar turns to 2020 to review and update their internal practices, procedures and policies.

Illinois Human Rights Act Amendments

The Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) prohibits discrimination in employment or hiring based on race, ethnicity, gender. Effective July 1, 2020, the IHRA now applies to all employers, thereby eliminating the prior 15-employee threshold. Employers are now required to include in their employee handbooks an explicit notice informing employees of their right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace and must provide the contact information for the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Workplace Transparency Act

All of the provisions of the Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”) are effective January 1, 2020. Under the WTA, employers are prohibited from seeking unilateral agreements requiring current or prospective employees to waive, arbitrate or “otherwise diminish” existing or future claims, rights or benefits related to unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation. This prohibition does not apply to contracts entered into and subject to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act or the National Labor Relations Act but it does apply to other contracts entered into, modified or extended after the WTA’s effective date.

The WTA requires all Illinois employers regardless of size to provide annual sexual harassment preventing training. This training must include: (1) an explanation of the State’s sexual harassment law; (2) examples of conduct constituting unlawful sexual harassment; (3) a summary of relevant federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment including available remedies; and (4) a summary of responsibilities of employers in preventing, investigating and taking corrective measures for sexual harassment.

The WTA additionally now imposes mandatory employer reporting of all judgments or rulings finding sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination to the Illinois Department of Human Resources.

Illinois Equal Pay Act Amendment

Effective September 29, 2019, employers are no longer allowed to inquire into a job applicant’s wage or salary history. Further, employers cannot prohibit employees from refraining from disclosing information about compensation and benefits with other employees. An employer does not violate this Act if the applicant voluntarily discloses current or prior wage or salary history as long as the employer does not consider that information when making employment or compensation decisions.

There is an additional amendment to this Act that covers pay discrimination between African American employees, while previously the Act was limited to pay disparity between men and women.

Background Checks

Effective January 1, 2020, employers cannot inquire into or use a criminal arrest as a reason to refuse to hire an applicant, discriminate against an applicant or employee, or take other negative employment actions based on criminal arrest.

Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act

Effective January 1, 2020, employers who record video interviews and use artificial intelligence analysis on said interview must now take three steps with respect to the applicant. First, employers must notify each applicant that artificial intelligence may be used to analyze the applicant’s video interview. Second, employers must provide each applicant with information explaining how the artificial intelligence system works and what types of characteristics it uses to evaluate applicants. Third, employers must obtain consent from the applicant to be evaluated by the artificial intelligence program.

$15/hour Minimum Wage

Illinois has phased in increases to the minimum wage to bring the State’s minimum wage up to $15/hour by 2025. Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum wage increases to $9.25/hour. On July 1, 2020, the minimum wage increases to $10/hour. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase by $1.00 each January 1st until it reaches $15/hour on January 1, 2025. The State has increased the violations for failing to pay the minimum wage and violations related to proper overtime compensation. Previously, the amount recoverable for underpayment was the underpayment plus 2% of the amount of the underpayment per month. Now, the aggrieved employee may recover triple the amount of the underpayment plus 5% of the underpayment per month.

Also of note for employers located within the Chicago city limits, the minimum wage increases to $14/hour effective July 1, 2020 and $15/hour effective July 1, 2021.

Employer Action Plan

Given the new employment laws, employers should take a hard look at their employment policies and handbooks to ensure that the required disclosures are included in written policies and that prohibited language be removed. Employers should review their employment application processes and forms to ensure that salary history information is removed. Because all employers will now be covered by July 1, 2020 under the employment discrimination and harassment laws, employers should take this time to review internal policies and procedures and to confirm that they are in compliance with all State and federal discrimination laws. Finally, employers must create and make sure they have an annual sexual harassment training program in place for employees.

Daley Mohan Groble, P.C. encourages employers to contact them with general and specific questions about the new laws and how to comply with them.