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Illinois Makes Two Significant Changes to Its Employment Laws

On July 30, a new statute was signed into law in Illinois amending the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. It allows employees to take allegations of wage payment violations directly to state circuit courts, and increases the ability of employees to file class action suits. Such employees can be awarded costs and attorneys fees associated with filing these claims. In addition, the criminal penalties surrounding improper wage payment were increased. Now, if an employer (or an employer’s agent or officer who permits the violation to occur) is convicted two times within two years, it may be charged with a Class 4 felony. Illinois plans to create a more efficient system for processing small claims in order combat the growing problem of wage theft by employers.

Only two weeks later, Illinois’ Governor signed another bill into law, this time prohibiting employers from conducting pre-employment credit checks on applicants. The law seeks to end discrimination based on credit history both for job seekers and employees. Certain job categories are exempt from this new law, including those that involve trade secrets, management and control of the business, and unsupervised access to more than $2,500.