Seventeen leading civil rights organizations in Illinois are urging Gov. Bruce Rauner, in a letter sent to him on Tuesday, to sign legislation that would ban employment discrimination in all workplaces.
The measure, House Bill 4572, which passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support in May and is currently on the governor’s desk, would make the Illinois Human Rights Act’s workplace non-discrimination protections apply to all businesses in the state.
The letter is signed by organizations that advocate for and work to protect the civil rights of millions of Illinoisans, including women, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, immigrants and refugees, Latinos, Jewish people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.
The signatories include the ACLU of Illinois, ADL, African-American Lesbian Professionals Having A Say (ALPHAS), Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA), CAIR-Chicago, Chicago National Organization for Women, Citizen Action/Illinois, Equality Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Illinois National Organization for Women, Latino Policy Forum, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Pride Action Tank, and Women Employed.
The organizations wrote to the governor: “At a time when anti-equality forces seek to establish licenses to discriminate and civil rights laws are under attack in state legislatures and courts across the country, signing HB 4572 would send the powerful and unmistakable message that Illinois is best and strongest when state law protects all people from discrimination. Your approval on this bill would be consistent with our state’s bipartisan values of fairness, justice, and the freedom to be who you are without burden or discrimination.”
Read the full letter here.
Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national ancestry, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other protected classes. However, those protections only apply to employers with 15 or more employees. That means, for thousands of workers, workplace discrimination is completely legal. This is inconsistent with Illinois values of fairness and justice.
HB 4572 would modernize the Human Rights Act and protect all workers from employment discrimination. The legislation also synchronizes the Illinois Human Rights Act with non-discrimination ordinances in Cook County and Chicago that already apply to employers with one or more employees.
The governor has until August 13 to act on HB 4572 or it becomes law without his signature or veto.