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This article will briefly overview Illinois employment laws and recent changes made to Illinois employment laws for 2022.  


Employment law in Illinois is a very expansive area for legal missteps. Many laws must be followed on both the federal and state levels. It is important to note that when Federal and local laws conflict, the laws that offer the most protection prevail. This article will briefly overview Illinois employment laws and recent changes made to Illinois employment laws for 2022.  


What is the Illinois Human Rights Act?

The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits private sector employers from discriminating against certain protected classes. The Illinois Human Rights Act applies to private employers with at least one or more employees and follows the Illinois employment discrimination laws. Below is a list of some of the protected classes, but is not meant to be exhaustive:  

  • Sex  
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions  
  • Age discrimination of age forty years or more  
  • Race  
  • Color  
  • Religion  
  • Arrest record  
  • Expunged and sealed convictions  
  • Marital status  
  • Housing status  
  • Sexual orientation  
  • Citizenship status  
  • National origin  
  • Ancestry  
  • Military status  
  • Military dishonorable discharge status  
  • Disabilities and short-term disabilities  
  • Protective order status  



What is Equal Pay Protection in Illinois?

The Illinois Equal Pay Act prevents employers from paying lower wages to female or African-American employees. The Illinois Equal Pay Act prohibits paying women or African-American employees lower wages for performing the same or substantially similar work on positions that require a similar skill set, effort, and duties performed under similar working conditions.    

An Illinois employer can differentiate pay based upon nondiscriminatory reasons. This includes a merit system, a seniority system, a system that measures earnings based on quality or quantity of production. It is permissible for an employer to do so if it is not based on sex, race, or other protected traits. The pay differential must be related to the job and is a business requirement, and the pay differential is accounted for.  

Illinois Minimum Wage Law Explained

The Illinois Minimum Wage Law provides the same protections but also bans wage discrimination on the basis of sex, mental, or physical handicap.  

Illinois Equal Wage Act Explained

The Illinois Equal Wage Act applies to an Illinois manufacturing employer employing at least six or more employees. The Illinois Equal Wage Act is intended to prohibit unequal pay for equal work unless the differential is due to experience, seniority, skill, training, responsibilities, or any other reasonable category with the exception of gender.   Check out our related article that discusses what happens when an employer fails to pay an employee.  

Illinois Wages of Women and Minors Act Explained

Illinois also has the Wages of Women and Minors Act as well. This Act prohibits employers from paying women and minors an unreasonable wage. The wage must not be less than the fair and reasonable value of services rendered. The wage must also meet the standard of living required for basic health.    

Can I Get Fired for Discussing My Pay with a Co-Worker?

The Illinois Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for discussing their wages or another employee's wages. Under the Illinois Equal Pay Act, it is also illegal to require an employee to sign a contract prohibiting them from disclosing their wages, benefits, compensation, or other compensation.    

I Am Pregnant; What Accommodations Am I Entitled To Under Illinois Employment Laws?

The Illinois Human Rights Act states that an employer must provide reasonable accommodations based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Some reasonable accommodations are, but are not limited to:  

  • Frequent bathroom breaks  
  • Longer bathroom breaks  
  • Rest breaks  
  • A private area that is not a bathroom for nursing mothers to nurse or pump breastmilk  
  • Appropriate seating  
  • Help with manual labor  
  • Temporary transition to a less physical or less dangerous position  
  • Modification of responsibilities, policies, and or work schedule; and  
  • Time off  

Can I Be Terminated for Requesting Religious Accommodations?

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, a covered employer must reasonably accommodate an employee who sincerely holds religious beliefs contrary to an employer's work requirement. An employer cannot require a term or condition of employment that an employee goes against their sincerely held religious belief or custom. This could include wearing religious clothing and grooming unless the employer can show undue hardship. An employer, however, is permitted to implement a dress code or grooming code for food safety and workplace safety.    


My Employer Denied My Request to Inspect My Personnel Records. Is This Legal?

The Personnel Record Review act requires that employers with five or more employees permit former and current employees to review documents that have been or will be used in examining the employee's qualifications for employment, transfer, raises, promotions, performance plans, termination, or other action. An employee can request to review the personnel files twice per calendar year.  


Can An Illinois Employer Use Credit Checks to Hire Me?

This can depend upon the type of employment. The Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act typically prohibits employers from using an applicant's credit history to determine if the employer will hire the applicant. However, Illinois' Employee Credit Privacy Act allows banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and debt collectors to use a credit check to determine a hiring decision. The Act also permits credit checks where adequate credit history is an occupational requirement for the position.    


Can my Illinois Employer Run Criminal Background Checks?

The Illinois Human Rights Act bans employers with 15 or more employees from investigating an applicant's arrest history. An employer may not inquire about a job applicant's criminal history that has been expunged, sealed, or subject to executive clemency or a pardon. It is important to note that an employer can still ask a job applicant about criminal convictions that have not been sealed or pardoned. Certain categories of jobs always will require asking a job applicant about a criminal conviction history, even if the conviction is sealed, for positions such as child care workers, teachers, health care workers, and armed security guards.  


Under the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, or the "Ban the Box" Act, bars employers with 15 or more employees from asking criminal history on the job application. It is legal for employers to ask about criminal history after the applicant has been chosen for an interview. If there is no interview, an employer can make a conditional offer and then ask about the criminal history.    


Can My Illinois Employer Ask About My Salary History?

The Illinois Equal Pay Act generally prohibits employers and employment agencies from:  

  • Screening job applicants upon their present or previous wage or salary history;  
  • Requiring a wage or salary history as condition to: 1. Being in consideration for employment; 2. An interview; 3. Receiving an offer of employment; and 4. An offer of employment or an offer of wages or salary; or  
  • Requiring that job applicants report their wage or salary histories as a condition of employment.  
  • It is lawful for an employer or employment agency to discuss salary expectations and explain salary information with job applicants.    
  • Suppose a job applicant voluntarily offered the employer or job agency. In that case, their salary history is lawful unless the employer uses this information to offer employment or determine future earnings or other compensation.  

Is My Illinois Employer Required to Give Me Time Off and Leaves of Absence?

Illinois law provides for required time off and leaves of absence for employees. Below is a list that is not limited to the below-listed categories:  

  • Family military leave  
  • Family care leave  
  • Child bereavement leave (employer must have 50 or more employees)  
  • Blood donor leave (employer must have 51 or more employees)  
  • Domestic violence leave  
  • Jury duty leave  
  • Witness leave  
  • Voting leave  
  • Civil air patrol leave (for employers with 15 or more employees)  
  • Emergency responder leave; and  
  • Day of rest requirements.  


What If I Am Fired? Can My Former Employer Give Me A Bad Reference?

Yes, under the Illinois Record Disclosure Act, employers are not liable for a good-faith reference of information they believe to be truthful about a current or former employee's job performance. It is lawful for a previous employer to give a negative reference. If it is known to be false or a violation of a civil right, then there is no longer a presumption of good faith.    

New Illinois Employment Laws for 2022

There have been some noteworthy changes to Illinois employment laws for 2022.  

Illinois Minimum Wage Increase 2022

The state's minimum wage increased to $12.00 an hour for 2022 and will continue to rise to $15.00 an hour by 2025. The city of Chicago already has a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour. This does not apply to all hourly employees. For example, tipped employees will see their minimum wage rise to $7.20 per hour.    

Changes In Restrictive Covenants Under the Illinois Freedom to Work Act

The new change to the law bars non-competes agreements with any employee whose compensation is less than $75,000.00. This will increase to $90,000.00 by 2037. Under the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, employee rights surrounding non-compete agreements have changed. These changes include the following:  

  • There is a ban on non-solicitation agreements with any employee whose compensation is $45, 000.00 or less per year.  
  • Employees are to be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and have at least fourteen days to consider the agreement if they are eligible for any such agreements.  
  • The fee-shifting provision is removed so employees will not be responsible for enforcement actions that do not prevail.  

Changes to Illinois Equal Pay Act Registration Certificates

There have been amendments to the Equal Pay Act for employers with more than 100 employees. Now the employer will be required to acquire an "Equal Pay Registration Certificate" from the Illinois Department of Labor. Some of the deadlines have been moved to March of 2022. The Certificate is to certify that the employer complies with all Federal laws and Illinois laws that guarantee equal pay for female and minority employees. Some new requirements are that employers with less than 100 employees must certify that they are not subject to this certification requirement.    


This article has provided an overview of Illinois employment laws and changes to Illinois employment laws for 2022. If you need help understanding your rights, contact an experienced employment attorney at 630-324-6666 or fill out our confidential contact form and a member of our team will be in touch.

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