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Illinois Puts The Squeeze On Employers

4/19/21

By: Eileen Darroll

Illinois has passed three new laws that expand employee’s rights. These laws will impact the way employers hire and retain employees in substantial ways. 

SB 1480 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act making it a violation to discriminate against an individual based on his or her prior convictions unless (1) there is a “substantial relationship” between the conviction(s) and the position sought; or (2) granting the employment or continuing the employment would involve an “unreasonable risk” to property or the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public. 

A “substantial relationship” means the employer must consider whether the position creates the opportunity for the same or a similar offense to occur and whether the circumstances leading to the conviction will recur in the position. 

To determine if a “reasonable risk” exists, the employer must take certain factors into consideration such as the length of time since the conviction, the number of convictions, and the nature and severity of the convictions, the relationship to safety and security of others, the facts surrounding the conviction and evidence of rehabilitation.  If the employer decides not to hire the individual or to disqualify an employee from a new position because if his or her criminal record, there are written notification requirements the employer must follow to comply with the law.

SB1480 also amended the Business Corporations Act of 1983 by requiring corporations that file an EEO-1 report with the EEOC to provide the same information to the Illinois Secretary of State, which will publish the information on the gender, race and ethnicity of the corporation’s employees on its website.  Corporations must comply with this demographic information report with the corporation’s annual report filed on and after January 1, 2023.  The language of the Act seems to suggest that the corporation must report demographic information on all of its employees, wherever they are located, not just in Illinois.

SB1480 also requires private employers with more than 100 employees to in Illinois to obtain an “equal pay registration certificate” from the Department of Labor by March 23, 2024.  Any corporation that does not obtain the certificate or who’s certificate is suspended must pay a civil penalty of 1% of gross profits.  The certificate has five categories of information on wages that must be provided, and new corporations must obtain a certificate within three years after commencing operations.  The Act also includes whistleblower protections.  Employers should review their pay practices to ensure they are in compliance by 2024.

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