Last month Governor Rauner vetoed a bill that would have expanded the Illinois Human Rights Act to employers with 15 employees or less. The Illinois Human Rights Act is the State’s principal anti-discrimination act and prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of race, gender, religion, pregnancy, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other classifications. The Act functions in much the same way that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 functions on the federal level, but is even broader.
Most of the Act’s provisions only apply to employers with at least 15 employees, although some of the provisions apply to all employers, like those prohibiting discrimination based on pregnancy or prohibiting sexual harassment. The proposed legislation, House Bill 4572, would have expanded the Act to all employers. The Governor’s decision to veto the bill is unquestionably good news for small businesses.
Small businesses in Illinois already face a number of challenges like high taxes, regulations, and onerous annual reporting requirements. Subjecting them to further liability via the Act would have made Illinois even less competitive as compared to its neighbors who do not have these anti-business measures.