Illinois' foundational civil rights law will now protect more workers from discrimination as a new statute to strengthen the Illinois Human Rights Act's employment non-discrimination protections takes effect today.
The Illinois Human Rights Act protects workers in Illinois from discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other protected categories.
Public Act 101-0430 extends the law's employment non-discrimination protections to employers with one or more employees. Previously, the state law only applied to employers with fifteen or more workers. The new law puts Illinois on equal footing with states, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, where existing employment non-discrimination laws apply to all workers.
Public Act 101-0430 passed the Illinois General Assembly with bipartisan support in May 2019 and was approved by Governor JB Pritzker in August 2019.
State Senator Cristina Castro ( D-Elgin ):
"Workplace discrimination exists. It may not be done with bad intent, and at times it might not even be done intentionally, but it still happens, and real Illinois families are affected by it. Everyone deserves the right to work at their job without having to worry about being discriminated against just because of who they are."
State Representative Will Guzzardi ( D-Chicago ):
"It shouldn't matter whether you have five employees or five thousand discrimination should be illegal, full stop. I'm so grateful to my colleagues, and to Gov. Pritzker, for making that a reality in Illinois, closing this loophole and providing legal protections for every worker in our state."
Anna Koeppel, Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs, Laborers International Union Midwest Region:
"Before now, it was legal to discriminate against tens of thousands of Illinois workers. All workers in Illinois deserve to be treated with fairness and respect, and to have the ability to seek justice when their employer is treating them inappropriately. Thank you to Rep. Guzzardi, Sen. Castro, the legislature, and Gov. Pritzker for standing up for working people by extending these important protections to those who have gone without for so long."
Mike Ziri, Director of Public Policy, Equality Illinois:
"Just two weeks ago, we celebrated the US Supreme Court's decision affirming LGBTQ non-discrimination in the workplace, a policy that had already been law in Illinois since 2006. Today, Illinois further advanced workplace justice by ensuring that workers at small businesses in Illinois are protected from employment discrimination, not just workers at employers with fifteen or more employees. Truly, the Illinois Human Rights Act reflects our shared values of equality, dignity, and fairness for all communities in the Land of Lincoln. We also appreciate the Illinois Department of Human Rights' commitment and dedication to enforcing these protections for workers and to upholding our shared values."
About Equality Illinois
At Equality Illinois we envision a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We work hard to promote legislation to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning ( LGBTQ ) individuals; maintain the visibility of LGBTQ issues; oppose legislation which seeks to limit the civil rights of the LGBTQ community; and expand statewide grassroots support.
—From a news release