Illinois Employment Law Update – Fall 2012

Contributed by Jeff Risch

As the Chair of the Illinois Chamber’s Employment Law & Litigation Committee, I want to make certain that our readers receive the latest changes and updates courtesy of Springfield.  Be assured that our labor group continues to be on the frontline on key local, state and federal workplace regulation. 

Social Networking Limits (HB 3782):  This measure provides that it is unlawful for an employer to request a password or other account information in order to access an employee’s or prospective employee’s social networking website.  HB 3782 allows for employers to maintain lawful workplace policies regarding internet use, social networking site use and electronic mail use.  This legislation allows employers to obtain information about an employee or prospective employee in the public domain.  Governor Quinn has signed this legislation as Public Act (PA) 97-875.  It is effective January 1, 2013.

Equal Pay Act – Individual Liability (SB 2847):  As amended, individual liability under the Equal Pay Act occurs when the employer knowingly and willfully evades the payment of a final award or final judgment under the Act.  Effective on January 1, 2013, the Governor signed as PA 97-903.

Service Members Protections (SB3287):  This measure creates the Illinois Service Member Civil Relief Act which provides certain legal protections afforded to service members (and family members where specified) are subject to stated provisions of law. Amends the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act to set forth a provision concerning stays of contested case hearings for service members.  Amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to provide that a violation of specified provisions regarding legal protections for military personnel constitutes a civil rights violation under the Illinois Human Rights Act.  This is now PA 97-913, with an effective date of January 1, 2013.

Employment Discrimination (HB 3915):  Changes the term “handicapped” under the Illinois Human Rights Act to “disability”.  NOTE: We can expect that the ADA (as amended) will continue to be relied on as highly persuasive authority in interpreting employers’ obligations related to disability protections under the IHRA. Governor Quinn signed as PA 97-877 with an August 2, 2012 effective date.

Prevailing Wage Notice (HB5212):  Provides that a public body or other entity shall notify contractors and subcontractors of changes in prevailing wage rates.  However, the notification requirement will be met by including in the contract that the prevailing rate is established by the Department of Labor and available on the IDOL website — shifting the responsibility yet again on the contractor and small business owner.  Effective January 1, 2013 as PA 97-964.

UI Administrative Changes (HB 5632):  Has been signed into law as PA 97-791 and goes into effect January 1, 2013.  The new law cleans up obsolete language and makes other non-substantive changes.  It requires payments be made to the Department of Employment Security instead of the Director.  It addresses several federal conformity issues including:

  1. Illinois law now provides for a monetary penalty for individuals who fraudulently obtain UI benefits that are greater than 15 percent of the amount that was fraudulently obtained.
  1. Illinois law now requires an employer account to be charged for benefits that were incorrectly paid if the incorrect payment was the result of the employer (or employer’s agent) failing to timely respond to information requests from the state UI agency and the employer (or agent) has established a pattern of failing to timely respond.
  1. Illinois law now requires employers to report to the state new hire directory the names of all employees rehired after having been separated for at least 60 days.