House Bill 252 is a recent attempt to expand the Illinois Human Rights Act to encompass employees that work at small business with less than 15 employees. Currently, small business employees do not have any course of action against employers for discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, and age, although these employees can bring sexual harassment and disability discrimination claims, as well as federal race discrimination claims. Proponents of the bill argue that small businesses should not be exempt from discrimination claims simply because they are small businesses.
Some municipalities, such as Chicago, have passed ordinances that allow small business employees to file discrimination complaints, however, this option is not yet available state-wide. The Bill’s proponents further argue that proceedings at the state level will move much faster because it will eliminate the need for administrative proceedings that later lead to civil suits. However, the Bill’s opponents note that it will increase the already-heavy burdens faced by small businesses and could swamp the Illinois Department of Human Rights with an unmanageable case load. House Bill 252 passed through the House on a vote of 73-40, and currently sits before the Senate Assignments Committee. For more information on the Bill’s progress and other business-related matters, contact the attorneys at Rock Fusco & Connelly LLC.