Bill expands workers’ rights

Local News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — It’s a fight for the little guys; lawmakers want every worker in the state to get their day in court if they’re a victim of discrimination.

“If they get treated a certain way, they should have their rights to say they’re not happy with this, or whatever it may have been,” says Annette Taylor.

But that’s not quite how the law works now. Those rights come only if you’re working for a business with 15 employees or more. Some say that’s not fair.

“That means you’re open to get treated any way that anyone wants to treat you.” 

The proposed change would impact more than 200,000 small business owners.

Stephanie Florian, who has her own tax company, is one of them.

“I see why they would have, but in the same instance, how would you protect yourself if someone says you’re discriminating?” says Florian.

If passed, she says she’d reconsider hiring help during tax season.

“If I can do the work myself, then why hire somebody if i’m just opening myself up to more litigation or something down the line?”

Those supporting the bill aren’t buying that reasoning. They say business owners can protect themselves if they simply don’t discriminate.

“I don’t discriminate. I never discriminate, so I couldn’t imagine someone coming at me with that but sometimes even the truth isn’t enough in these cases.”

Florian says she’s witnessed employees flip the script and she can’t afford the risk.

“It’s a rough spot, but there’s got to be some kind of middle ground. Small business is hard. You really struggle to be able to pay for everything and to stay on top of everything. It’s hard to add another angle.”

After any incident of harassment or discrimination, workers will have 180 days to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. An employer would have 60 days to respond.

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