The Workplace Transparency Act (WTA), signed into law on August 9, 2019, imposes new requirements and modifies existing laws in ways that will impact nearly all Illinois employers. A number of definitions have been expanded, especially within the confines of the Illinois Human Rights Act. These issues all became effective as of January 1, 2020.
For example, the WTA expands the definition of prohibited conduct to prohibit discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of both actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or unfavorable discharge from military service.
This is a significant change and one that both employers and employees should be aware of. Cramer Law understands this new definition and what it will mean for both parties involved in allegations of discrimination and harassment.
What is considered a worksite and who is deemed an employer have been revised in the amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act through the WTA as well. The amendment describes an employer as an entity that employs at least one person. Currently, to be protected requires a 15-employee threshold.
The limits of where an employee works is also expanded to include remote environments and work completed outside of established workplaces.
So, the rights of non-employees in the workplace like contractors, consultants, vendors, and similar workers will now be protected under the IHRA.
The WTA also clarifies that employers are responsible for harassment by non-management and non-supervisory employees and non-employees only if the employer becomes aware of the alleged harassment and then fails to take reasonable corrective action measures to stop the harassment. These may not have a significant impact on employer practices in Illinois, but anti-discrimination and harassment policies should be updated to reflect the change.