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IL Equal Pay Act

Illinois Equal Pay Act – September 2019

A few weeks ago, Governor, J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 834 into law. This bill amends the Illinois Equal Pay Act (IEPA) of 2003 and takes effect rather quickly on September 29, 2019!

 

What makes this law different than it was in 2003? A few things:

  1. The law previously included language that stated that employees be compensated equally for “substantially equal work” without regard to sex or race. It has now revised “equal work” to state “substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility.”
  2. The Act previously stated the pay discrepancies could be explained by several different factors such as seniority, merit, etc. However, there was a catch-all qualification that stated “any factor other than sex or race.” It is now clarified to state that any compensation discrepancy is tied to the job in question.
  3. Most of us that have been in a Human Resources or Office Manager role for a while have come across employees discussing their wages amongst one another and the issues that this can cause. As most of you likely know, we cannot require that employees do not discuss their wages with others, including their co-workers. The Act now states that you may also not force an employee to sign an agreement or contract stating that employees are not able to do this.
  4. Currently, the law permits employees to recover only amounts of an underpayment if they are on the winning side of a suit whereas the new law will allow an employee to succeed in being awarded compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief. Employers may also be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000 per violation.
  5. And last but not least. The IEPA now bans employers from inquiring about an applicant’s wages at a previous or current place of employment. Specifically stating that Illinois employers are prohibited from:
    1. Requesting or requiring wage or salary history from an applicant as a condition of being interviewed, considered for a job, or hired;
    2. Requesting or requiring that an applicant disclose their wage or salary history as a condition of employment;
    3. Screening job applicants based on their current or prior wages or salary histories by requiring that the history satisfy a minimum or maximum level; and
    4. Seeking a job applicant’s wage or salary history from any current or former employer. However, this subsection does not apply if the applicant is a current employee seeking another position within the same organization, or if their salary history is available as a matter of public record.

The good news? You CAN engage in the interactive process with applicants. Ask them what their salary requirements or desired compensation is! Nothing prohibits an applicant from voluntarily sharing current or prior wage history with you, we are just not able to rely on this information when making decisions to make the applicant an offer of employment or when determining their salary.

What steps do you need to take to be in compliance? My typical answer…training! Make sure your interviewing managers are well trained on things they are and are NOT allowed to ask in the interview process. It also appears that an update to your application process might be in the near future if you still have a spot that asks for the current salary.

This article (“Article”) is a service made available Priority Staffing Group, Ltd, its partners, affiliates or subsidiaries (“Provider”). This Article provides general information related to the law and is designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. This Article does not provide legal advice and Provider is not a law firm. None of our content writers are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or will be formed between you and Provider or any of our representatives.

 

Megan Jones | HR Director

Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

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On June 4, 2019, the Illinois legislature passed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. In a nutshell, the use of cannabis in Illinois will now become recreational effective January 1, 2020.

Under this act, the General Assembly finds and declares that cannabis should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol. To the extent that persons, age 21 and older, will have to show proof of age before purchasing cannabis.

When it comes to how we handle this in the workplace as employers however, we still have some rights, unlike other states. The General Assembly declares at the beginning of the “Cannabis Act” that “employee workplace safety shall not be diminished and employer workplace policies shall be interpreted to protect employee safety.”

A snapshot of Sections 10-50 gives us a few guidelines on what we can expect as employers in how to move forward with our enforcement of this new law.

  • Nothing in this Act shall prohibit an employer from adopting reasonable zero tolerance or drug-free workplace policies, or employment policies concerning drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage, or use of cannabis in the workplace or while on-call provided that the policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner.
  • Nothing in this Act shall require an employer to permit an employee to be under the influence of or use cannabis in the employer’s workplace or while performing the employee’s job duties or while on call.
  • Nothing in this Act shall limit or prevent an employer from disciplining an employee or terminating the employment of an employee for violating an employer’s employment policies or workplace drug policy.
  • An employer may consider an employee to be impaired or under the influence of cannabis if the employer has a good faith belief that an employee manifests specific, articulable symptoms while working that decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position, including symptoms of the employee’s speech, physical dexterity, agility, coordination, demeanor, irrational or unusual behavior, or negligence or carelessness in operating equipment or machinery; disregard for the safety of the employee or others, or involvement in any accident that results in serious damage to equipment or property; disruption of a production or manufacturing process; or carelessness that results in any injury to the employee or others. If an employer elects to discipline an employee on the basis that the employee is under the influence or impaired by cannabis, the employer must afford the employee a reasonable opportunity to contest the basis of the determination.
  • Nothing in this Act shall be construed to create or imply a cause of action for any person against an employer for:
    • actions, including but not limited to subjecting an employee or applicant to reasonable drug and alcohol testing under the employer’s workplace drug policy, including an employee’s refusal to be tested or to cooperate in testing procedures or disciplining or termination of employment, based on the employer’s good faith belief that an employee used or possessed cannabis in the employer’s workplace or while performing the employee’s job duties or while on call in violation of the employer’s employment policies;
    • actions, including discipline or termination of employment, based on the employer’s good faith belief that an employee was impaired as a result of the use of cannabis, or under the influence of cannabis, while at the employer’s workplace or while performing the employee’s job duties or while on call in violation of the employer’s workplace drug policy; or
    • injury, loss, or liability to a third party if the employer neither knew nor had reason to know that the employee was impaired.
  • Nothing in this Act shall be construed to enhance or diminish protections afforded by any other law, including but not limited to the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act or the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.
  • Nothing in this Act shall be construed to interfere with any federal, state, or local restrictions on employment including, but not limited to, the United States Department of Transportation regulation 49 CFR 40.151(e) or impact an employer’s ability to comply with federal or state law or cause 25 it to lose a federal or State contract or funding.

 

So what should we do to prepare for the upcoming change in 2020?

  1. Consider whether or not you will continue to provide a drug-free workplace. If so, will you address with your staff prior to rolling this out?
  2. Evaluate your policies and procedures when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. The policy should clearly state that you are cannabis, drug, and alcohol-free workplace, what the consequences will be of violating this policy as well as how they can contest a cannabis-related disciplinary decision.
  3. While this act does not state specifically that reasonable accommodation must be made, medical marijuana laws might require you to engage in the interactive process.
  4. Train your staff on the signs of impairment and the procedures to follow for reasonable suspicion drug testing and post-accident drug testing.
  5. It’s always wise to consult your attorney to review these policies prior to putting them in place.

 

 

This article (“Article”) is a service made available Priority Staffing Group, Ltd, its partners, affiliates or subsidiaries (“Provider”). This Article provides general information related to the law and is designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. This Article does not provide legal advice and the Provider is not a law firm. None of our content writers are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or will be formed between you and Provider or any of our representatives.