Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined Illinois workers and members of Raise the Floor Alliance at a press conference to unveil legislation that would protect workers from retaliatory conduct by employers, which includes protections for workers who inform governmental authorities about unlawful behavior by their employers.
“Workers who want to assert their basic workplace rights risk losing their income, livelihood, liberty, and – for some immigrant workers – their ability to remain in the United States with their families,” Raoul said. “To encourage people to stand up, we need to ensure that they will not be punished for doing so. I look forward to working with Raise the Floor Alliance and members of the General Assembly to pass these critical worker protections.”
Raoul’s office is collaborating with Raise the Floor Alliance on the Work Without Fear Act – contained in House Bill 361 – that would fill existing voids in labor enforcement that leave workers unprotected from often-devastating employer retaliation when they seek to enforce their rights or blow the whistle on unlawful employer practices.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Prohibit employers from engaging in retaliatory conduct, including unfair immigration-related practices, against workers who exercise their rights.
- Amend the Whistleblower Protection Act to increase protections against retaliation for all workers, particularly low-wage and immigrant workers, who inform government authorities about employers’ unlawful practices that harm Illinois workers and their communities.
- Prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights by using E-Verify in ways not authorized by federal law, filing or threatening to file a false police report, or contacting or threatening to contact immigration authorities.
- Protect the ability of workers to report issues of discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, without fear of immigration consequences or any other adverse employment actions.
- Grant the Attorney General effective tools to protect witnesses from retaliation.
“I am proud to be the chief sponsor of HB 361, I know that it will protect workers like Isabel Escobar and countless other immigrant women that have experienced sexual harassment and retaliation on the job,” said State Representative Lilian Jiménez. “This bill will protect the ability of workers to report issues of discrimination, including sexual harassment in the workplace, without fear of immigration consequences or any other adverse employment action and give the AG the tools to enforce the law.”
“We need to follow the lead of California, Maryland, and New Jersey to pass this commonsense legislation,” said Ugo Okere, Policy Director for Raise the Floor Alliance. “We need to be clear that immigrant workers have a home in the state of Illinois, a home will not allow for retaliation, silencing, or intimidating of any worker. Regardless of immigration status, whistleblowers keep our workplaces safe.”
Attorney General Raoul’s Workplace Rights Bureau protects and advances the employment rights of all Illinois residents, particularly the state’s most vulnerable residents and immigrant populations. The bureau investigates and litigates cases involving serious or persistent wage law violations or other significant employment practices, and monitors and proposes legislation concerning labor and employment issues.
Attorney General Raoul encourages workers who wish to file a complaint about an employer’s practices to call the Workplace Rights Hotline at 1-844-740-5076 or visit the Attorney General’s website.