Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council Calls for Department of Hearings and Appeals to End “Hold Open” Practice

By       Daniel M. Pedriana and Justin M. Schuessler

Recently the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC), which includes representatives from both Labor and Management, voted to approve two separate bills that include potentially significant changes to the Worker’s Compensation Act of Wisconsin (Chapter 102), including the administration of the Act.

The primary objectives of the proposed provisions are split between the two bills so as to increase the chances that at least some of the provisions are eventually adopted and signed into law.

I.  First Proposed Bill

The highlights of the first bill include a proposed medical fee schedule. In the absence of either a fee schedule or employer-directed medical care, Wisconsin employers often face the burden of extensive, and arguably, unnecessary medical treatment expenses. The intent of this provision is to keep work-related medical treatment expenses shouldered by employers and their carriers within reason much like the way that group health insurance reduces that burden for personal medical expenses.

Those familiar with the Council’s dealings are aware that it has attempted to achieve a medical fee schedule in the past without success. However, both Labor and Management believe there may be increased willingness by lawmakers to consider such a schedule. Thus, it is, again, included in the first bill.

The other major proposal in the first bill relates to the current presumption of a work-related, non-traumatic mental injury suffered by law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders. The recognized standard to establish a “non-traumatic mental” injury claim is that an employee must show that he or she was subjected to “unusual stress” that was outside of the expected stressors of their job. School District No. 1 v. DILHR, 62 Wis. 2d 370 (1974).

However, the legislature has previously recognized that some select groups of employees are regularly exposed to such high levels of stress in the ordinary course of their employment that it would be difficult to establish “unusual stress,” and are thus entitled to a presumption that they have sustained a non-traumatic mental injury. That presumption is codified in Wis. Stat. § 102.17 (9) and provides that a mental injury is presumed for a law enforcement officer or firefighter if there has been a formal PTSD diagnosis and the conditions of liability under Wis. Stat. § 102.03 (1) are met by a preponderance of the evidence.

Currently, the presumption applies to law enforcement officers and firefighters. However, the provision in the first bill seeks to expand that presumption to EMS workers, volunteer firefighters and paramedics. Management’s primary concern about such an expansion has been that it may eventually extend to those who do not experience stressors that are peculiar to their jobs.

Finally, the first bill also seeks a cost of living increase for workers who started receiving PTD benefits more than six (6) years ago.

II.   Second Proposed Bill

The main attraction of the second bill is a call to the DWD/DHA to cease its much-maligned practice of holding hearing applications in an “open” status even after a valid compromise agreement has been filed and an order issued. There is no specific language mandating the DWD/DHA dismiss those Applications pursuant to the order that was issued. Thus, the DHA posits it has the authority to keep those Applications in “open” status in the event additional claims are sought at a later date.

This provision seeks an amendment to the Statute that specifically requires the DWD/DHA to dismiss a hearing application where a valid compromise agreement has been filed, accepted and an order has been issued. This will provide both the employee and employer the closure that is often contemplated and sought by both parties when a claim is compromised on a full and final basis.

The second bill also requests an amendment to the Act to allow employers and/or carriers to pay undisputed PPD awards in a lump sum. The intent of this provision is to allow carriers who write worker’s compensation policies in Wisconsin to close their claims expeditiously after an order is issued regarding undisputed PPD. Closing the claim faster will result in a more accurate experience rating for the carrier.

Aside from some updates to current statutory language, per the DWD’s request, the last proposal of the second bill is an $8.00 raise to the current weekly PPD rate for 2024 and then another $8.00 raise in 2025. Thus, if the bills are enacted, the maximum weekly PPD rate for 2024 injuries will be $438.00 and the weekly rate for 2025 injuries will be $446.00.

III.  Remaining Legislative Procedure

The Council’s agreement on the provisions included in these two bills is just the first step in the legislative process. The next step is sending the proposals to the Legislative Reference Bureau for official drafting of the bills. Once the bills are drafted, the Council will reconvene and review the language to ensure its accuracy and make any modifications. If no modifications are made, the bills will go to Madison where they will be introduced by legislators for debate and hearings. Eventually, the bills will need approval by the State Assembly and the State Senate and will be sent to Governor Tony Evers for signature.

The process can be long and arduous, but employers and, to a lesser extent, carriers are able to help ease the process along by simply contacting the local lawmaker in their district and making known their support for the two agreed bills.

If you would like to discuss the agreed bills further, or if you would like more details about how to get involved in the legislative process, please feel free to contact the experienced worker’s compensation team at Lindner & Marsack, S.C.

LINDNER & MARSACK, S.C., ANNOUNCES 2023 SUPER LAWYERS DESIGNATIONS

Lindner & Marsack, S.C., one of the region’s most respected and long-standing management-side labor, employment and worker’s compensation defense firms, today announced team members recognized by Super Lawyers magazine in their annual rankings. Honorees include Douglas Feldman, Gary Marsack, Daniel Pedriana, Sally Piefer, Andrew Quartaro and Oyvind Wistrom, along with Tyler Hall and Samantha Wood who were named by the organization as “Rising Stars.” This year marks the first appearance on the list for both Piefer and Hall.

“Our primary goal is always to do our best work in service to the legal needs of the employers we serve in Wisconsin and beyond,” said Wistrom, Firm President. “To be recognized for that work by the industry and our peers is always an honor. And yet, while these are individual acknowledgements, they really speak to the depth, experience and dedication of our entire team.”

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Attorneys are selected using a rigorous, multi-phase rating process in which peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. The objective of the program is to create a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.

LINDNER & MARSACK, S.C., ANNOUNCES TEAM MEMBERS HONORED AS 2024 BEST LAWYERS

Lindner & Marsack, S.C., one of the region’s most respected and long-standing management-side labor, employment and worker’s compensation defense firms, today announced several team members honored among the Best Lawyers in America® in the upcoming 2024 edition.

Attorneys recognized include:

“We greatly appreciate the acknowledgment of leading industry publications and ranking services as a validation of the work we do to help employers in Wisconsin and across the country navigate their toughest legal challenges,” said Wistrom, Firm President. “While our interests always lie first and foremost with the daily needs of our clients, to have our work recognized by colleagues and peers is a great source of pride for our entire team.”

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Rankings are based on a rigorous process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in more than 75 countries.

“For more than 40 years, the rigorous methodology of Best Lawyers has ensured the integrity and esteem of our legal recognitions,” said Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer. “It is with great pleasure that we continue to provide potential clients with the pinnacle measurement of credibility through our Best Lawyers awards as they search for counsel.”

NLRB MAKES IT EASIER TO UNIONIZE YOUR BUSINESS

By Attorney Kristofor Hanson

In its August 25, 2023, decision, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) paved the way for a union to represent employees without a formal vote. Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC, 372 NLRB No. 130.

The case involved Cemex, a multinational construction materials company, and the Teamsters, who were seeking to organize a bargaining unit consisting of Cemex’s ready-mix drivers. A majority of Cemex’s ready-mix drivers signed authorization cards signaling their desire for the Teamsters to serve as their bargaining representative. The Teamsters then petitioned for a Board election. According to the Board, in the lead up to the vote, Cemex management engaged in multiple unfair labor practices (ULP), including discharging a driver for union activity, and threatening job losses, wage freezes, reduced benefits and other reprisals if the union was successful in its efforts. The Board held the election and the Teamsters lost, 179-166.

Historically, unfair labor practices like that occur during an organizing campaign unless particularly severe, would result in a second election, if the union had lost the first. Under Cemex, however, the Board held that if an employer commits unfair labor practices during a campaign significant enough to require the setting aside of an election, the Board will issue a bargaining order rather than a second election.

In addition, the Board held that when a union collects authorization cards from a majority of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit, unless the employer promptly files an election petition with the Board, the Board will issue a bargaining order. According to the Board, “promptly” means within two weeks, unless extenuating circumstances are present.

Therefore, if a union presents an employer with proof that a majority of employees have signed cards, unions can request that the employer begin bargaining. If the employer refuses for more than two weeks and has not filed for an election, the union can file a ULP charge with the Board, and the Board will order the employer to bargain.

However, if an employer who petitioned for an election violates federal labor law in a way that would require setting aside the election, the petition will be dismissed, and the NLRB will order the employer to recognize and bargain with the union. This is a significant change from precedent, which allowed employers to refuse to accept evidence of majority support of a union and required that the union petition for a representation election.

The Board stated, “[t]he Cemex decision reaffirms that elections are not the only appropriate path for seeking union representation, while also ensuring that, when elections take place, they occur in a fair election environment….” The Board also stated that an employer has the right to challenge a union’s claimed majority via the election process but is not allowed to abuse that process.

Employers presented with authorization cards by a union should immediately confer with labor counsel and petition for a representation election. Employers may then make lawful efforts to combat unionization in the lead up to the election. Failing to petition for an election will now guarantee that the union will represent at least a segment of the employees of your business.

Should you have questions concerning this or other labor matters, please contact our office.

WORKER-FRIENDLY NLRB CHANGES EMPLOYER WORK RULE STANDARD

By: Kristofor L. Hanson and Alexandra (Sasha) Chepov

On August 2, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board adopted a new standard for analyzing the legality of facially neutral work rules that do not expressly restrict employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). In Stericycle Inc., 372 NLRB No. 113, the Board overruled the legal framework established by the Board in Boeing Co., 365 NLRB No. 154 (2017), later clarified in LA Specialty Produce Co., 368 NLRB No. 93 (2019). In doing so, the Board adopted a standard by which the legality of a facially neutral work rule is determined by assessing whether the rule has a reasonable tendency to chill employees from exercising their Section 7 rights.

Section 7 of the NLRA states generally that employees have the right to unionize and to join together to advance their interests as employees. It also makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.

The Boeing standard required the Board to evaluate two key factors when assessing the legality of facially neutral work rules maintained by employers:  1) the nature and extent of the potential impact on employees’ NLRA rights, and 2) the employers’ legitimate justifications associated with the work rule. The Boeing standard allowed the Board and administrative law judges to deem a work rule lawful simply because the employer had legitimate business justifications for implementing it.

In addition to this standard, the Boeing majority created a categorical classification system to provide greater clarity and certainty when evaluating the legality of work rules under the Boeing standard. Under this system, a facially neutral work rule would fall in one of three categories. Category 1 of the Boeing categorical classification system was designated for rules that did not interfere with employees’ Section 7 rights or where the adverse impacts on Section 7 rights were outweighed by justifications associated with such rules. Facially neutral work rules in Category 1 were always lawful for employers to maintain. Work rules that were sometimes lawful to maintain, but which warrant scrutiny in each case, fell in Category 2. Lastly, work rules that fell in Category 3 were always unlawful to maintain given that their impact on protected activity could never be justified by an employer.

In Stericycle Inc., the Board recognized that the Boeing standard appropriately recognized that employer interests should factor into the Board’s analysis, but criticized the interpretive principles adopted in Boeing as giving too little weight to employees’ Section 7 rights and too much weight to employer interests in that it permitted employers to adopt overbroad work rules that chilled employees’ exercise of their Section 7 rights.

To remedy this, the Board adopted a new standard that requires the General Counsel to prove a challenged rule has a reasonable tendency to chill employees exercise of their Section 7 rights. Under the Stericycle Inc. standard, the General Counsel will meet her burden if an employee could reasonably interpret the rule to have a coercive meaning, even if a contrary noncoercive interpretation of the rule is also reasonable.  If the General Counsel carries her burden, the employer’s work rule is deemed presumptively unlawful. An employer then has an opportunity to rebut the presumption by proving that the rule advances legitimate and substantial business interests that cannot be achieved by a more narrowly tailored rule. If the employer proves its defense, then the work rule will be found lawful to maintain.

Notably, the Board’s decision states that under the Stericycle Inc. standard, facially neutral work rules will be interpreted from the perspective of an employee who is subject to the rule and economically dependent on the employer and who also contemplates engaging in protected concerted activity. As a result, the employer’s interest in maintaining a work rule is immaterial to the determination of whether the rule is lawful.

In support of its departure from the Boeing standard, the Board clarified that the new standard still provides employers the necessary leeway to maintain rules of their own choosing to advance legitimate and substantial business interests. However, these rules must be narrowly tailored to significantly minimize, if not altogether eliminate, their coercive potential. If employers do so, their rules will be lawful to maintain.

As the Board’s decision in Stericycle Inc. applies to virtually all private-sector employers, regardless of whether their workplace is unionized, employers along with labor counsel should review and revise employer handbooks and policies to ensure that they are narrowly tailored and in compliance with the new standard established by the Board.

If you have any questions about this material, please contact Kristofor Hanson by email at khanson@lindner-marsack.com or Alexandra (Sasha) Chepov at achepov@lindner-marsack.com, or any other attorney you have been working with at Lindner & Marsack, S.C.

Daniel Finerty Authors Sixth Article for the Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal; Also honored with the Journal’s 2023 Publication Award

This summer, Lindner & Marsack’s Daniel Finerty published his sixth scholarly article for the Wisconsin Defense Counsel’s (WDC) Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal. In the same issue, he was honored with the Journal’s 2023 Publication Award.

Daniel’s current article, “Employment Law for Defense Attorneys and Insurance Professionals: a Process-Oriented Approach,” introduces and provides background regarding the foundations of employment law and the various cooperative processes it requires for defense attorneys and insurance professionals handling Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI) claims at any stage of their careers. By understanding these foundations, which are oriented around processes designed to bring an employer and employee together to solve a problem and keep them together, insurance professionals can ensure more thorough and grounded assessments of EPLI claims in order to bring greater value in the organization.

In addition, Daniel received the Journal’s 2023 Publication Award – bestowed by the publication’s editor and Board of Directors – which each year recognizes one well-written cutting-edge article. The award recognizes the article, “Defending Native American Clients and Their Carrier Partners – The Impact of Wisconsin’s Tribal Gaming Compacts,” which was co-authored by Adam Fitzpatrick of Corneille Law Group and originally appeared in the Summer 2022 edition. Daniel and Adam will receive their award at the WDC Annual Conference August 10-11 in Wisconsin Dells.

Daniel’s work with Lindner & Marsack, SC, focuses on defending EPLI claims for national and regional public-sector carriers and their third-party administrators (TPAs). He regularly counsels and trains claim professionals on best practices in handling EPLI claims. For more than 25 years, he has partnered with EPLI carriers, TPAs, and their respective claims professionals to defend EPLI claims in litigation, arbitration, mediation and during pre-filing, post-tender stage.

In addition to membership in the State Bar of Wisconsin and the State Bar of Illinois (pending), Daniel is admitted to practice in several federal district courts as well as numerous Native American tribal courts in Wisconsin and Michigan. He is an active member of the Wisconsin Defense Counsel, The Gavel and the Defense Research Institute’s Native Nations Law Task Force.

The Wisconsin Civil Trial Journal is published three times annually and provides scholarly information and analysis on tort topics and matters of interest to the defense bar.

LINDNER & MARSACK, S.C., WELCOMES WORKER’S COMPENSATION DEFENSE ATTORNEYS ANDERS MCLEOD AND SAM ANDRINGA TO GROWING LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW TEAM

Lindner & Marsack, S.C., announced today that Anders McLeod and Sam Andringa have joined the firm. Both attorneys will practice out of Lindner & Marsack’s Milwaukee headquarters in the area of worker’s compensation defense.

A recent graduate of Marquette University Law School, McLeod’s practice is dedicated to defending worker’s compensation claims for insurance industry clients and self-insured employers. While at Marquette, McLeod participated in both the Moot Court Association and the Association for Women Lawyers. She also received an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Denison University. McLeod is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Andringa focuses his practice on representing and advising insurers in the investigation and defense of worker’s compensation cases. He has experience in hearings before arbitrators and commissioners at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission as well as in appeals to the higher courts of the State of Illinois. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Trinity Christian College, Andringa earned his law degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 2019. While in law school, Mr. Andringa clerked for an Illinois worker’s compensation firm representing and defending Illinois employers. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association.

 

“As we celebrate our 115th year as a trusted advisor to employers in Wisconsin and beyond, we’re incredibly proud of the reputation and acclaim earned by our worker’s compensation defense division,” says Firm President Oyvind Wistrom. “We’re thrilled to have the skills, talent and dedication that Anders and Sam bring to the table as colleagues and collaborators on our team and, most importantly, in service to our clients.”

2023 NWCDN ANNUAL CONFERENCE

As a founding member of the National Worker’s Compensation Defense Network, Lindner & Marsack, S.C. is pleased to invite you to this year’s fantastic fall conference which will take place on October 19th at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.  We are fortunate to have some excellent speakers from around the country presenting very relevant multi-jurisdictional worker’s compensation topics.  Please also join us for a cocktail reception and dinner cruise prior to the conference on the evening of October 18th.  We hope that you are able to make it to both of these exciting events!

Click here and register today!

For any questions, please contact Attorney Chelsie Springstead at cspringstead@lindner-marsack.com or  by phone at (414) 426-9350.

Important Legal Developments for Clients WITH OPERATIONS OR EMPLOYEES IN MINNESOTA

By Oyvind Wistrom

Minnesota Set to Invalidate All Future Non-Compete Agreements

 On May 24, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law a provision banning all future non-compete agreements in Minnesota.  The term “non-compete” is defined to include provisions restricting an employee (or independent contractor) from performing work for another employer for a specified period of time, in a specified geographical area, or in a capacity that is similar to the employee’s work for the employer.  The ban will be effective for all non-compete agreements (also known as a “covenant not to compete”) entered on or after July 1, 2023.

By enacting the Omnibus Jobs, Economic Development, Labor and Industry appropriations bill, Minnesota will become just the fourth state (joining California, Oklahoma and North Dakota) to ban non-compete agreements.  Although the new law bans the enforcement of all non-compete agreements entered into with employees or independent contractors, the law does allow covenants not to compete in connection with the sale or dissolution of a business.

It is also important to note that the law only renders void and unenforceable covenants not to compete; the balance of an otherwise enforceable contract or agreement is not affected.  This means that other types of restrictive covenants can still be enforced under Minnesota law, including non-disclosure agreements, agreements designed to protect trade secrets, agreements to protect confidential information, agreements restricting the ability to use client or contact lists, and non-solicitation agreements.

The newly passed legislation also prevents employers from seeking to circumvent the new law by prohibiting employers from requiring employees to agree to clauses designating choice of law and venue in any state other than Minnesota.  Employees seeking to enforce the non-compete ban will be allowed to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees.

The ban on non-compete agreements does not apply retroactively, meaning all existing non-compete agreements signed before the effective date will remain enforceable, as permitted under Minnesota law.  However, employers with employees or independent contractors in Minnesota should take action to ensure that their agreements are in compliance with the new law starting July 1.

Minnesota Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (starting in 2026) 

Paid Family and Medical Leave is a new program being launched in Minnesota in 2026.  It will provide for both paid family leave for an employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or for an employee to bond with a new baby or child in their family.  It will also provide for paid medical leave for an employee’s own serious health condition if it prevents the employee from working.  Additionally, Minnesota employees will be able to take leave to support a family member in the military deploying overseas, or if an employee or a family member is facing a significant personal safety issue.  The legislation breaks benefits into two categories: 1) medical leave, including for pregnancy or recovery from childbirth, and 2) all other kinds of leave, that is parental leave, safety leave, caregiving leave, and deployment-related leave. Workers can receive up to 12 weeks of leave in each of the two categories per benefit year; however, benefits will be capped at 20 weeks a year for employees who take advantage of both.

The law will cover nearly all employees in Minnesota, including both private sector and state and local government employees.  It will cover employees regardless of employer size and include both full-time and part-time workers, with a limited exception for certain seasonal workers.

The implementation of this new law is still some time away, but starting in mid-2024, most Minnesota employers will be required to submit a wage detail report, which will detail the quarterly wages received and hours worked for each employee.

Earned Sick and Safe Ordinance for City of Bloomington 

The City of Bloomington has adopted an Earned Sick and Safe Leave (ESSL) Ordinance for workers in the City that will go into effect on July 1, 2023.  The ordinance is similar to the City of Minneapolis ordinance that has been in effect since 2017.

The Bloomington ordinance will generally require employers to provide certain employees working in the City of Bloomington with up to 48 hours of paid ESSL per year.  The ordinance covers all employees (including part-time and temporary employees) performing work in Bloomington for at least 80 hours in a year for their employer.  A covered employee can use accrued ESSL beginning 90 calendar days following commencement of their employment.

Like the Minneapolis ordinance, the Bloomington ordinance requires employers with an employee handbook to include in their employee handbook a notice of employee rights and remedies under the law.  The rules clarify that this requirement also applies if the employer provides any type of “orientation material” to a new employee in lieu of a handbook.

ADDITIONAL UPDATES FOR CLIENTS WITH ILLINOIS OPERATIONS

By Daniel Finerty

There are several changes to Illinois that that, regardless of when the laws were passed, go into effect or have recently gone into effect in 2023, and place additional obligations on Illinois employers.

Additional Paid Leave Obligations

 In addition to the Illinois Paid Leave for All Workers Act that goes into effect on January 1, 2024,  Illinois employers are now obligated to provide unpaid leave for absences resulting from a pregnancy loss, unsuccessful IVF treatment, a failed adoption or surrogacy, or a diagnosis that impacts pregnancy. In this way, this unpaid leave obligation may, after January 1, 2024, act as an additional or alternative leave obligation once paid leave has been exhausted.

In addition, Section 21 of the Employee Sick Leave Act was recently amended to provide that  “[t]he rights afforded under this Act serve as the minimum standard in a negotiated collective bargaining agreement.” That provision went into effect on January 1, 2023.

Mandatory Time-Off and Breaks

 Effective January 1, 2023, Illinois’s One Day Rest In Seven Act (ODRISA) requires employers to provide employees with at least 24 hours of rest in every consecutive 7-day period. Should an exception be sought or necessary for business reasons, ODRISA allows an employer to secure permits from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) for employees to work on the 7th day provided the employee seeking work on that day has voluntarily agreed to work and, in cases where the employee will be working over 40 hours, is paid at the applicable overtime rate. According to the IDOL FAQ, any such exemption should be sought in advance and, if IDOL grants an exemption, the employer’s statement must demonstrate that all employees have volunteered to work the seventh days in a row. The IDOL application for a permit can be submitted online.

Employees are also entitled to a mandatory meal period of at least 20 minutes for every 7.5-hour shift. The 20-minute break must begin no later than 5 hours after the start of the shift. An additional 20-minute meal period must also be provided if the employee works a shift that is 12 hours or longer. Reasonable restroom breaks, in addition to the meal break must be provided.

For union employers, the day off and meal break obligations do not apply if days off and meal periods are governed by their collective bargaining agreement. However, if a collective bargaining agreement does not specify days off and meal periods, the ODRISA provisions may apply.

Effective January 1, 2023, employers that currently file EEO-1 reports are required to submit similar reports to the state of Illinois, and includes new pay data reporting and certification requirements, among other obligations.

Equal Pay Certification Requirement

 The Equal Pay Act of 2003, 820 ILCS 112 et seq., was recently amended to require that all private employers with 100 or more employees in Illinois submit demographic and wage data to IDOL, along with a filed Annual Employer Information Report EEO-1 and an Equal Pay Compliance Statement certifying that, among other things, the average compensation for its female and minority employees is not consistently below the average compensation for its male and non-minority employees. These legislative changes are intended to promote pay transparency and ensure that all Illinoisans, regardless of their background, receive equal pay for substantially similar work they do on behalf of an employer.

The filing deadlines required for 2023 were suspended; however, for most businesses, IDOL will provide A 120-day advanced notice of an Initial certification deadline, according to the IDOL FAQ page. Generally, businesses with 99 or fewer employees and businesses that are not required to file an Annual Employer Information Report EEO-1 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are exempt from this obligation.

Illinois businesses should note that this reporting is in addition to that which has been in place since July 1, 2020, has continued and is continuing each July 1 thereafter, which requires an employer to disclose annually to the Illinois Department of Human Rights “an adverse judgment or administrative ruling against it in the preceding calendar year […] the following information: the total number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings during the preceding year; whether any equitable relief was ordered; and the number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings entered against the employer within specific categories outlined in Section 2-108(B) of the Illinois Human Rights Act.” Resources for this reporting can be found on the Illinois Department of Human Rights website.

Minimum Wage Increase

 On January 1, 2023, due to amendments to 820 ILCS 105/4(a)(1), the Illinois Minimum Wage increased from $12.00 per hour to $13.00 per hour. This rate will increase each year with another change on January 1, 2024 to $14.00 per hour and a final increase slated to occur on January 1, 2025 when the minimum hourly rate increases to $15.00 per hour. There are additional changes to employer obligations regarding tipped employees, paying a training wage to tipped employees, and for youth workers. A description of those changes can be found on the IDOL FAQ page and another IDOL resource that provides the minimum wage chart by year.

Hairstyle Discrimination

 The amended Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination based on an expanded definition of “race” to include traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.