Work Authorization Status is Now a Protected Class in Illinois

Effective August 2, 2021, the Illinois Human Rights Act has been amended to prohibit employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations from discriminating against an employee or job applicant based on their federally authorized work status. The amendment is Public Act 102-0233.

The amendment adds “Work Authorization Status” as a protected class. The law defines “work authorization status” as the status of being a person born outside of the United States, and not a U.S. citizen, who is authorized by the federal government to work in the United States.

The amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act also makes it a civil rights violation for an employer to refuse to honor work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work.

Lastly, the amendment specifically states that nothing in the Act requires an employer to sponsor, either monetarily or otherwise, any applicant or employee to obtain or modify work authorization status, unless otherwise required by federal law.

This is the second time this year that the Illinois legislature has modified the Illinois Human Rights Act. Governor Pritzker previously signed into law an amendment that prohibits an employer from using a conviction record as a basis to make an employment decision. Illinois employers should be increasingly careful when making hiring, firing, and other employment decisions.

The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.