Below are highlights of certain federal law developments occurring in Illinois that will affect employers in 2014. Please make certain that you are in compliance.
- Workplace Violence Prevention: Effective January 1, 2014, employers with five or more employees will be permitted to take proactive steps to protect employees from workplace violence, harassment, and stalking. Employers will be able to apply for an order of protection against disgruntled workers who have made a documented threat against the business or another employee. Employers are required to provide an affidavit that there is a credible threat of violence against the workplace or an employee to apply for an order of protection.
- Protection of Social Media Accounts: Effective January 1, 2014, an amendment to the Illinois’ Right to Privacy Act in the Workplace Act will go into effect. Since January 1, 2013, the Act has prohibited employers from requesting or requiring that employees or applicants provide passwords or related social media account information, or provide access to their profile on a social networking website. The amendment limits the scope of the Act’s prohibition on requesting or requiring access to social media accounts. Following the amendment, employers will be permitted to access professional accounts where the employer has a “duty to screen employees or applicants prior to hiring or retain employee communications as required under Illinois insurance laws or federal law or by a self-regulatory organization” as defined by the Securities Exchange Act. A “professional account” is defined by the Act as an account, service, or profile used or accessed by a current or prospective employee for business purposes of the employer. Employers will still be prohibited from requesting or requiring access to personal accounts unrelated to any business purpose of the employer.
- Legalization of Medical Marijuana: Effective January 1, 2014, registered users suffering from a “debilitating medical condition” will be allowed to purchase medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries. Employers may not penalize employees for their status as patients who are qualified and registered to purchase medical marijuana, unless failing to do so would cause the employer to lose monetary funding under federal law. However, employers retain the right to restrict or prohibit the use of marijuana in the workplace and may implement and enforce a drug-free workplace policy, provided the policy is enforced in a non-discriminatory manner. Employers also may adopt reasonable policies regarding the consumption, storage, or timekeeping requirements regarding the use of medical marijuana.
- Prevailing Wage Records Requirements: Effective January 1, 2014, contractors and subcontractors performing work on public works projects are required to keep payroll records, either electronically or on paper, of all workers employed on the project for at least five years (increased from three years) after the last payment on the contract.
- Concealed Weapons Law Developments Following last summer’s adoption of the Illinois Fire Concealed Carry Act, employers seeking to prohibit individuals from bringing concealed weapons onto their private property are required to post a sign to that effect at building entrances. The Illinois State Police recently released proposed rules regarding the sign, which consists of a white background and a depiction of a handgun in black ink with a circle (of four inches in diameter) around the handgun depiction with a diagonal slash across the firearm in red ink. No text or other marking is contained in the sign, except the reference to the Illinois code section 430 ILCS 66/1. The sign must be posted clearly and conspicuously at the entrance to the property. A template of the approved sign is available here: https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/Signage.aspx
- Same-Sex Marriage Recognized: Effective June 1, 2014, same-sex marriage will be recognized in Illinois. Same-sex and different-sex couples will be entitled to the same benefits, protections and responsibilities of civil marriage.