It’s one of the hottest summers on record across the US and around the world, and things may be heating up for Illinois employers as well–with pending legislation that, if signed into law, would require employers to include pay scales in job postings and to meet new health and safety-related requirements when using temporary employees. Illinois employers need to be aware of other changes, including possible liability under amendments to the Illinois Gender Violence Act, changes to the Chicago and Cook County minimum wage and new obligations for employers to meet Equal Pay Registration Certificate requirements under the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003.
In this blog, we “round up” eight important changes to know and two bills Illinois employers should keep on their radar as we start to round down the summer.
Eight to Know
1. Employers can now face liability under amendments to Illinois Gender Violence Act
On July 28, Governor Pritzker signed HB 1363 into law, which amends the Illinois Gender Violence Act (GVA) effective immediately to impose employer liability in certain circumstances where individuals are victims of gender-related violence. Under the GVA, a person who has been the victim of gender-related violence can sue the person who committed the act of violence and seek damages. Now, not only do perpetrators of gender-related violence face liability under the Act–employers can be liable, too.
What to know
- Under the new law, employers can be liable for gender-related violence committed in the workplace by an employer or agent of the employer (including independent contractors), but only when the interaction giving rise to the gender-related violence arises out of and in the course of employment with the employer–which is undefined and vague, so we’re hoping for guidance on what this means.
- Note that “workplace” is defined, and includes the employer’s premises (including any building, real property, and parking area under the control of the employer), and any location used by the employee while performing job duties for the employer, as well as activities occurring off-premises at employer-sponsored events where an employee is not performing the employee’s job duties (think holiday parties).
- For liability to extend to an employer, the gender-related violence must occur (i) while the employee is directly performing the employee’s job duties and the gender-related violence was the proximate cause of (i.e. substantial factor in causing) the injury, or (ii) while the agent of the employer was directly involved in the performance of the contracted work and the gender-related violence was the proximate cause of the injury. In addition, an employer must also act “in a manner inconsistent with how a reasonable person would act under similar circumstances” to be liable.
- Notwithstanding the above, in order to be liable, employers must:
- Fail to supervise, train or monitor the employee who engaged in the gender-related violence–but an employer who provides sexual harassment prevention training pursuant to Section 2-109 of the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) has an affirmative defense that adequate training was provided to the employee; or
- Fail to investigate complaints or reports directly provided to a supervisor, manager, or owner (or another person designated by the employer) of similar conduct by an employee or the employer’s agent–and fail to take remedial measures in response to the complaints or reports.
- The statute of limitations for an alleged victim of gender-related violence to sue the employer is four years, or within four years of a victim turning 18 if the victim is a minor at the time the cause of action accrues.
- The amendments also clarify that the Act does not preclude a victim of gender-related violence from pursuing any other right or cause of action created by statute or common law.
Employers should train HR and managers on the new law, and make sure employees receive appropriate sexual harassment prevention training under Section 2-109 of the IHRA to at least have the affirmative defense available should they face employee claims under the new law.