Illinois recently adopted House Bill 0121, which will forbid employers from discriminating against an individual based upon their work authorization status. This bill will add this provision onto the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) and make the protections effective immediately.
This new law will likely be familiar to those already aware of federal employment laws, which forbid practices that discriminate against applicants and current employees based upon their place of origin, citizenship, and factors related to verification of employment status. An example of this last provision would be such as how under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), it can be considered discriminatory to use the expiration date of an applicant’s employment authorization as a factor in making an employment decision. However, these federal protections only apply to some categories of work authorization which does not include those requiring employer sponsorship to qualify for a visa or those with only a temporary visa.
This new provision for Illinois was added with an intention to eliminate discrimination that is aimed at the particular status or duration of said status that follows a particular work authorization. This means that under this law, it is now a violation of civil rights for an employer to reject an individual’s work authorization based on the particular status it grants or the duration of the status.
The bill’s supporters have stated that it was crafted in response to multiple recent lawsuits alleging employment discrimination against recipients of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. This bill will prohibit any employment discrimination based on the particular federal work authorization status of an individual without considering the reason for the work authorization.
This bill will present Illinois employers with a few new challenges to remain compliant; so, here are a few tips to consider in order to remain safe from alleged violations. The first thing employers should consider is avoiding inquiries into an individual’s particular work authorization status outside of what is needed to ensure they are permitted to work. Check existing forms for applicants and employees to ensure they do not contain any material that would call for an individual to identify their particular employment authorization unless it is needed for a particular and essential business purpose.
Next, ensure that all employee manuals, non-discrimination notices, and non-discrimination training include the company’s policy of non-discrimination toward an individual’s work authorization status. Finally, ensure that an individual’s work authorization status is never a factor in making any adverse employment decisions.