Legislation State programs Whistleblower State laws

Illinois lawmakers pass anti-retaliation bill for workers

Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Springfield, IL — Legislation intended to protect workers from retaliatory conduct by employers, as well as strengthen current protections under Illinois state law, is awaiting approval from Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D).

Passed by the Senate (44-15) on May 23 and the House (71-38) on May 14, the bill also would codify the authority of the Workplace Rights Bureau to investigate and hold accountable employers who retaliate or threaten to retaliate against employees, according to a press release from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

Sen. Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) and Rep. Marcus C. Evans Jr. (D-Chicago) are sponsors of the bill.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Broaden the scope of conduct protected under the Illinois Whistleblower Act to protect workers who report violations of the law or threats to public health and safety directly to their employer.
  • Expand the definition of retaliation to include blacklisting an employee from future opportunities and immigration-based retaliation.
  • Provide express statutory authority to the attorney general’s office to sue employers who retaliate or threaten retaliation against employees.

Under the bill, workers could be awarded interest on back pay of 9% for each year up to 90 calendar days from the date a complaint is filed, along with liquidated damages and a civil penalty up to $10,000 each.

“We must encourage workers to step up and report dangerous or unlawful practices,” Raoul said in the release. “Currently, workers who want to assert their basic workplace rights risk losing their livelihood and ability to provide for themselves and their families. For some immigrant workers, asserting their rights means risking their ability to remain in the United States.”

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)