On January 1, 2020, the “Workplace Transparency Act” will take effect in Illinois. The Act is a sweeping piece of legislation designed to protect victims of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It applies to nearly every employer in Illinois and places restrictions on contract language that might otherwise impair an employee’s right to disclose unlawful employment practices. Here are a few of the notable provisions of the Act:
- Restrictions on confidentiality and non-disparagement covenants. Language addressing these concerns in separation and settlement agreements is now prohibited unless the claims arose before the agreement was signed, the covenants are mutually beneficial to both parties, and the employee is given at least 21 days to review the agreement before execution and 7 days after execution to revoke. Attorney’s fees and costs are awarded for employees who prevail in litigation.
- Discrimination and harassment claims must be excluded from arbitration agreements.
- Expansion of the definition of “work environment” to include more than just the physical work location to which an employee is assigned.
- Protections expanded to include contractors, consultants, and nonemployees.
- New sexual harassment training requirements.
- New reporting requirements for any settlements based upon protected characteristics.
All eyes are on Illinois, as this new Act is certain to change the landscape of labor and employment in the state. Whether this will be a template for other states going forward remains to be seen.
If you have questions about the Illinois Workplace Transparency Act, please give us a call at (248) 477-6300. We’re happy to help.