Do you know what the Illinois government has been up to? The answer is, quite a bit.

The Illinois Government has been busy and there are several new laws and changed laws that will impact the way you operate your business and interact with employees.   Some have far reaching impact and you will want to make sure you are in compliance BEFORE the new year starts.

Equal Pay Act – Changes Effective 9/29/2019

  • Compensation inquiries are now banned.   Employers may not inquire about salary history of candidates or current employees (if looking to promote or change jobs internally).   They may ask what the salary expectations are of the candidate, or they may tell the starting salary and ask if that is in line with candidate expectations.
  • Employees are allowed to discuss salary with other employees and employers cannot ask employees to sign any kind of agreement forbidding employees from discussing compensation. This does not apply to those in confidential roles such as human resources or payroll.
  • Applies additional explanations and requirements with designing and implementing compensation practices to prove equal pay for equal work.   The statute also allowed for additional damages to the employer including, but not limited to special fines up to $10,000 and compensatory damages.

The Workplace Transparency Act – New  Effective 1/1/20

  • Prohibits certain employment agreements.   This includes any non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreement that prevents employees from making truthful statements or allegations about workplace or sexual harassment.
  • Prohibits the use of mandatory arbitration agreements that would diminish or not allow someone to pursue a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • Prohibits settlement agreements that prevents someone from making truthful statements about unlawful employment practices under the Illinois Department of Human Rights or Title VII.

Illinois Human Rights Act – Changes  Effective 1/1/20

  • Expanded the definition of employer to those organizations with one or more employee.   The previous threshold was fifteen employees.
  • Amended the definition of harassment to include behavior that is discriminatory or harassing in nature based on the actual or perceived protected class characteristic.
  • Now adds protections for non-employees of your business to include consultants, contractors or anyone else providing services for the employer pursuant to a contract with the employer.
  • Requires mandatory training on the topic of preventing sexual harassment for ALL employees on an annual basis and for all newly hired employees within 90 days of employment.
  • All employers will be required to disclose any adverse judgement or administrative ruling relating to unlawful harassment or discrimination against the employer for the preceding calendar year (7/1/2020).

Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act – New  Effective 1/1/2020

Permits the use of personal use cannabis (marijuana) for adults 21 years of age or older.   This allows employers to maintain their current drug testing policies and disciplinary measures they currently have in place for other substances legal or illegal.

Victims Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) – Changes Effective 1/1/2020

Expands VESSA to not only allow unpaid time off for persons who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking, but also to those who are victims of gender violence .

Action Items as a Result of the Changes

  • Ensure all compensation programs and the administration of all programs are well thought out to not only comply with the law, but to also meet business objectives.   The days of winging compensation should be gone and start using a formal, comprehensive compensation system.
  • Check your employee handbook and other policies to make sure you are in compliance with the following:
    • Illinois Human Rights Act employer size coverage and required language to include how an employee can report concerns of workplace and sexual harassment.
    • Add the phrase to your anti-harassment/discrimination policy that actions/behaviors taken based on actual or perceived membership in a protected category are prohibited.
    • Drug testing policies and disciplinary actions including workers €™ compensation
    • VESSA to include gender violence
    • Workplace and Sexual Harassment policies to include protections for independent contractors and other non-employees providing services to your company.
    • Remove any mandatory arbitration agreements, non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements for anything relating workplace or sexual harassment.
  • Begin providing training to all employees and new employees (within 90 days of employment) on the topic of preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Change all applications (paper and electronic) and interview forms to NOT include any requests for salary history.   Stop asking salary history questions of candidates and current employees.

Don €™t be caught unaware.   Like most everything else with the government, claiming you did not know is not an excuse.   The cost of non-compliance can be high with fines or penalties reaching in the thousands of dollars for some of these laws.

Need Help?

Now that you are aware of the changes happening in 2020, we are here to help you in a cost effective and efficient manner.   We can:

  • Update your handbook and employment manuals to ensure compliance with the legal changes.
  • Ensure your policies and practices work together to remain in compliance.
  • Train your employees on the topic of Preventing Sexual Harassment
    • In person training
    • Video based training to train on your schedule complete with assessments and monthly reporting of training
  • Review your current compensation process/program
  • Review your current application and selection processes for legal compliance and internal cultural effectiveness


For more information and assistance, go to, call (217) 935-0209 or call/text (217) 433-6209.  We look forward to partnering with you!