justice scale justice scale justice scale

McKenna Minutes

“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act Expand the Scope of Harassment

-
Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act Expand the Scope of Harassment

Illinois’ Human Rights Act has been amended to enlarge its scope of potential harassment violations, including both an expansion of the definition of employer as well as expansion of the definition of harassment and an extension of the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect non-employees.

Broader Definition of Harassment

The Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) provides a new definition of “harassment” that includes unwelcome conduct based on actual or perceived membership in a protected class, where the conduct “has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.” Prior to the Amendment, “perceived membership in a protected class” was not actionable.

It clarifies that a “working environment” for purposes of sexual and other harassment is not limited to the physical location where the employee works but expands beyond the walls of the office or company:

“Sexual harassment” means any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. For purposes of this definition, the phrase “working environment” is not limited to a physical location an employee is assigned to perform his or her duties.

“Harassment” means any unwelcome conduct on the basis of an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, unfavorable discharge from military service, or citizenship status that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. For purposes of this definition, the phrase “working environment” is not limited to a physical location an employee is assigned to perform his or her duties.
775 ILCS 5/2-101

Non-Employees May Bring Harassment Claims

The IHRA’s amendments will also permit non-employees in the workplace to bring harassment claims. Non-employees include individuals who are “directly performing services for the employer pursuant to a contract with that employer.” Thus, included in the definition will be contractors and consultants.

Employers of Just One Employee Are Governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Perhaps the greatest change to the Illinois Human Rights Act though is that it will now apply to more employers because now even employers with just one employee are governed by the Act:

(1) “Employer” includes: (a) Any person employing one or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation;
775 ILCS 5/2-101.

While the other Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act take place on January 1, 2020, this“single employee” Amendment to the Illinois Human Right Act takes effect for cases accruing after July 1, 2020.

Kristin Tauras devotes her practice to guiding and representing employers with employment law or employment litigation matters, please contact her with any questions concerning these areas of law.

Categories Business Law Employment Law



Here to help with whatever your legal issues may be, schedule your no-obligation consultation or Simply Call us at.
Chicago: (312) 558-3900 or Woodstock: (815) 334-9694

Please do not send confidential information via email. The sending of information by you, and the receipt of it by McKenna Storer, is not intended to, and does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

Privacy Policy | Sitemap © 2020 McKenna Storer
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons