On August 21, 2019, Gov. Pritzker signed HB 252 into law, expanding coverage under the Illinois Human Rights Act to include small businesses.
The new legislation, P.A. 101-0430, newly defines “employers” covered by the Act to be those with “one or more employees...within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation [under the Act].” It becomes effective on July 1, 2020.
Currently, the Act only covers employers with 15 or more employees except for claims of sexual harassment, pregnancy or disability discrimination, which already cover employers with even one employee. The new definition of "employer" means that small businesses in Illinois may be subject to race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion and age discrimination claims and other claims from which they currently are exempt. The amended Act will also cover multistate businesses that employ one or more Illinois workers.
Smaller employers included in the expanded definition of "employer" may need to review their personnel policies, procedures, and training materials to ensure compliance with the amended Act.