United States: #MeToo-Inspired Laws Hit The Midwest: Illinois Passes Anti-harassment, Pay Equity, And Board Diversity Legislation

After ending 2018 with a slew of new employment laws, Illinois continues to enact legislation impacting employers. Following the example set by California, Washington, and other states recently, the Illinois legislature passed four new bills targeting equity, transparency, and discrimination last week, and Governor J. B. Pritzker is expected to sign them into law. This gives Illinois companies the opportunity to reevaluate their policies and practices with regard to sexual harassment, equity, and discrimination.

Illinois State Law Changes

Sexual Harassment (Senate Bill 75)

As the #MeToo movement continues to be a top priority of state legislatures throughout the country, Illinois joins several other states, such as Arizona, California, Delaware, Oregon, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington, in passing proactive legislation on the topic. SB 75 contains several provisions designed to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

First, the law limits unilateral nondisclosure agreements and mandatory arbitration agreements relating to sexual harassment and employment discrimination claims. It remains to be seen whether, upon challenge, courts will find this law and others like it that prohibit arbitration agreements to be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

The legislation also requires employers to disclose to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) by July 1, 2020, and each July 1 thereafter, the total number of final adverse administrative rulings or judgments in the preceding year and whether any equitable relief was ordered. In addition, SB 75 requires employers to disclose to the IDHR during an investigation the total number of settlements entered into during the preceding five years that relate to any act of alleged sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination. However, the law prohibits the IDHR from relying on the existence of any settlement to support a finding of substantial evidence.

SB 75 also permits employees who are victims of gender-based violence to take unpaid leave and requires hotels and casinos to provide employees working in isolated spaces with panic buttons to prevent sexual harassment or assault.

Finally, under this law Illinois joins California, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Maine in requiring employers to hold annual sexual harassment training for all employees. Like New York's law, SB 75 calls for the IDHR to produce a model sexual harassment training program, including a program specifically tailored to the restaurant and bar industry.

Equal Pay Act (House Bill 834)

HB 834, like recent legislation in Colorado, Washington, and Maine, prohibits employers from screening prospective employees based on salary histories and bars employers from requesting or requiring prospective employees to provide their salary history as a condition of being considered for employment. Importantly, the law expressly states that it does not apply to current employees applying for promotions or transfers with the same employer. The law also expressly permits discussions about an applicant's expectations with respect to compensation and benefits.

HB 834 would ban employers from requiring employees to sign a contract or waiver that would forbid the employee from discussing compensation information (though human resources employees and supervisors may be prohibited from disclosing compensation information learned in their jobs).

This legislation amends Illinois's Equal Pay Act of 2003. The law previously prohibited discrimination in pay among jobs that require "equal" skill, effort, and responsibility, but the new law will require employers to compare jobs that require "substantially similar" skill, effort, and responsibility. It also now requires that any factor that accounts for a pay differential must not be "based on or derived from a differential in compensation based on sex or another protected characteristic," must be job related and consistent with business necessity, and must account for the entire differential. Employers that violate the law may be subject to compensatory or punitive damages. These changes to the Illinois Equal Pay Act may, therefore, call for a fresh look at an employer's pay equity analysis.

Lower Threshold for "Employer" under the Illinois Human Rights Act (House Bill 252)

HB 252 amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and provides that "employer" includes 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. This significantly expands the previous definition of employer, which included any person employing 15 or more employees in Illinois (matching Federal Title VII's requirements).

Disclosure of Board Demographics (House Bill 3394)

HB 3394 requires publicly traded companies based in Illinois to report the demographics of their board and executives, including the self-identified gender and race of each member of its board. The University of Illinois will then publish an annual report card on Illinois companies' diversity. Companies will also need to report on their policies and practices for promoting diversity. A previous version of the bill would have required companies to include at least one woman, one African-American, and one Latino on their boards, but these requirements were removed from the bill before it was passed by the state legislature.

Practical Takeaways for Employers

Employers should be acutely aware of how these legislative changes affect their workplaces. To prepare for the implementation of the laws above, employers doing business in Illinois may consider doing the following:

  • Ensuring their sexual harassment and discrimination policies comply with the requirements outlined in SB 75
  • Adopting annual sexual harassment trainings that cover the standards set forth in Illinois law and federal law and preparing for such trainings
  • For employers with under 15 employees that were previously not covered by the IHRA, reevaluating policies to ensure they are in compliance
  • Limiting the use of arbitration or nondisclosure agreements with respect to harassment claims where necessary, and revising all employment agreements to ensure their nondisclosure and arbitration clauses meet the standards set forth in SB 75
  • Adjusting hiring or recruitment processes to eliminate questions about salary history as required by HB 834
  • Conducting privileged pay equity audits to evaluate compliance with the amended Illinois Equal Pay Act

Although #MeToo has not changed the fundamentals of federal discrimination law, the cultural shift continues to place new obligations on employers. Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor state legislation and will post updates on the firm's blog as additional guidance becomes available.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions