Three bills are making their way through the Illinois state legislature that would amend the Illinois Human Rights Act by setting new standards for employer responsibilities and employee rights in the workplace. Here is a summary:

HB 2161: Enhancing Protections for Family Responsibilities

House Bill 2161 is designed to support employees who have family caregiving responsibilities. This bill would amend the IHRA to create a new protected category based on “family responsibilities,” which is broadly defined to include an employee’s “actual or perceived” provision of personal care to a family member. The term “personal care” includes activities aimed at meeting a covered family member’s basic medical, hygienic, nutritional, or safety needs, as well as providing transportation to medical appointments or emotional support to a family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.

Although the current iteration of the bill adds “family responsibilities” to the list of categories protected against harassment and retaliation in employment, it also clarifies that these protections would not create any obligation for employers to make special accommodations for family caregivers, such as accommodations related to leave, scheduling, absenteeism, timeliness, or work performance.

HB 5371: Refining Employer Liability for Harassment

House Bill 5371 would clarify the conditions under which employers can be held liable for harassment and sexual harassment of non-managerial and non-supervisory employees, non-employees, and third parties. Specifically, liability for the harassment of the employer’s employees would attach only if the employer becomes aware of the harassing conduct and fails to take reasonable corrective measures. The IHRA currently provides that an employer is liable under these circumstances for harassment and sexual harassment by the employer’s non-managerial and non-supervisory employees. However, the amended language would apply the same standard to non-employees and third parties. “Third parties” is defined in the H.B. 5371 to include customers, clients, vendors, or other visitors.

HB 3492: Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Family Planning Decisions

House Bill 4867 would expand the IHRA’s definition of unlawful discrimination to include discrimination based on “reproductive health decisions,” which would also encompass discrimination against a person because of their association with another person’s reproductive health decisions. “Reproductive health decisions” would include a wide array of personal decisions relating to family planning, use of contraception, fertility or sterilization care, miscarriage management, abortion, and prenatal, intranatal, and postnatal care. Significantly, the proposed amendment does not include any exemption for religious beliefs.

Implications for employers

Passed by the House after debate and several amendments, all three bills are now under Senate review. We anticipate that these bills will become law before the end of the current legislative session, highlighting the need for Illinois employers to continue to stay vigilant and responsive to changes in employment law. We will continue to monitor the status of the proposed legislation and provide updates on any new developments.


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