New Laws for the New Year

With the ringing in of a new year, more than 200 new laws have become effective in Illinois. Below are some of the most important laws which were enacted and what they might mean for you or your business.

Pregnancy Discrimination (HB8 / PA 98-1050)

Perhaps the biggest new law of the year for businesses is the new rules on hiring and interviewing pregnant employees. Signed into law by Governor Quinn, House Bill 8 mandates that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers or potential hires who are pregnant. The new law requires employers to negotiate with the employees or potential new hires for “reasonable accommodations” such as longer bathroom breaks, help with physical labor, and private rooms for breastfeeding. Notably, unlike the ADA, the accommodations must be acceptable to the employee to comply with the new law.

Recording Conversations (SB1342 / PA 98-1142)

Signed by Gov. Quinn at the end of 2014, Public Act 98-1142 brings Illinois’s law into harmony with two Illinois Supreme Court cases. The law has previously prohibited any recordings of conversations without both parties’ consents, including police encounters. The Illinois Supreme Court struck the law down twice as being overbroad. The newly-effective law criminalizes the recording of private conversations and conversations where not all parties have given consent. However, the law carves out an exception for recording police officers who are performing their public duties.

Expanded Liability for Underage Drinking (HB4745/PA 98-1017)

Public Act 98-1017 expands the current law against providing alcohol to minors. It  was previously illegal for a parent or guardian to permit minors to drink at their residence or other private property. Public Act 98-1017 now closes a loophole that did not make it illegal for adults to permit drinking at trailers, mobile homes, campers, or watercraft under the adult’s control.

Speed Limit Expansion (SB2015/PA 98-1128)

In 2014, Illinois increased the speed limit on certain state highways. This new law will allow for higher limits around urban areas, including the Chicago Toll Highway system, up to 70 miles per hour, unless such a speed is proven to be too dangerous and a lesser speed is posted.

License Forfeiture (SB2583/PA 98-0870)

This new law prohibits the police from taking a driver’s license as bail after a minor traffic violation. Illinois was just one of six states in the country that still permitted the practice.

Boat Seizure (SB3434/PA 98-0699)

This new law allows police to seize a person’s boat if they are caught boating under the influence multiple times. The police can also seize a person’s boat if they cause a fatal boating accident while under the influence.

“Ban the Box” Bill (HB5701/PA 98-0983)

The state now prohibits private employers with 15 or more employees from inquiring about a potential new hire’s criminal background until a potential hire is determined qualified for a job and they are either brought in for an interview or made a conditional offer of employment. Violating this prohibition, intended to help ex-convicts find jobs, may result in a written warning for a first violation or up to $1,500 fines from the Illinois Department of Labor.

These represent just a handful of the 200 new laws that you or your business may be subjected to as of January 1. Rock Fusco & Connelly can help you interpret new laws or remain in compliance with changes to existing laws to help you avoid potential liability.

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