New Year, New Illinois Laws

The Illinois Legislature was hard at work creating more than 150 new laws for 2013. Fortunately, to make their civil war re-enactments more authentic, people can now own antique weapons that do not meet certain standards. However, the Legislature banned the possession and sale of shark fins.

There are several new laws that are important in the employment law context. First, the Legislature amended the Equal Pay Act so that officers and agents can be personally liable. If an officer or agent “willfully and knowingly” permits an employer to evade liability, the officer or agent becomes the employer and is liable for the judgment. 820 ILCS 112/27. This is important to prevent a company from escaping liability by dissolving itself.

Second, the Legislature amended the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to prohibit employers from requesting an employee’s, or prospective employee’s password to social networking websites. 820 ILCS 55/10. However, employers can still monitor an employee’s use of the Internet while the employee uses the employer’s computer. Additionally, employers can make lawful workplace policies regarding the use of Facebook or Twitter.

Finally, the Legislature changed the notification requirements in the Prevailing Wage Act to make it easier for an employer to provide notice regarding a change in wages. An employer can include a stipulation in the contract or written agreement with a contractor or subcontractor that the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”) revises the prevailing rate of wages. The stipulation can then direct the employee to the IDOL website. 820 ILCS 130/4. Previously, the employer had to provide notice each time the IDOL revised the wage rate.