Rauner Vetoes Bill Strengthening Human Rights Act

Equality Illinois Press Release
 

Equality Illinois Condemns Gov. Rauner’s Veto of Legislation that Would Strengthen Illinois Non-Discrimination Protections in the Workplace

August 13, 2018

CHICAGO—Gov. Bruce Rauner betrayed Illinois’ values of equality and fairness by vetoing a significant bill to strengthen workplace non-discrimination protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act, said Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.

“At a time when anti-equality forces are working overtime to establish licenses to discriminate and the next U.S. Supreme Court could begin to turn back the clock on civil rights laws, Gov. Rauner failed Illinoisans today. He could have sent a powerful and unmistakable message that Illinois is best and strongest when state law protects all workers from discrimination,” said Michael Ziri, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois. “Instead, Gov. Rauner effectively said it is okay to discriminate in the workforce at thousands of Illinois businesses on the basis of someone’s race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Shame on him.”

Sponsored by state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), HB 4572 would have ensured that workers in all Illinois workplaces are covered by the non-discrimination protections in the lllinois Human Rights Act. The Illinois Human Rights Act, adopted in 1980, includes workplace protections that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, and other protected categories. Protections for LGBTQ people were added to the law in 2006. However, the law only applies to employers with 15 or more workers. HB 4572 would have strengthened those protections by making the law apply to all businesses in Illinois.

“We thank Rep. Guzzardi and Sen. Castro for leading the legislative charge to protect all workers in Illinois from employment discrimination,” Ziri said. “Like all fair-minded Illinoisans, the sponsors of the bill know that fidelity to our shared values of equality and fairness are how we build a better Illinois.”

“We also recognize and applaud our partners at the Laborers International Union Midwest Region for advancing this bill and for affirming LGBTQ people. We know that organized labor has always championed the civil rights of all people, including LGBTQ Illinoisans.”

According to the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey, 15 percent of transgender people in Illinois who have been employed reported losing a job in their lifetime because of their gender identity or expression. In the year preceding the survey, 28 percent of those who held or applied for a job in Illinois during that year reported being fired, denied a promotion, or not hired for a job they applied for because of their gender identity or expression. Illinois respondents who had a job in the past year reported being verbally harassed, physically attacked, or sexually assaulted at work because of their gender identity or expression.

“From our engagement with LGBTQ communities across the state, people tell us they continue to encounter discrimination in the workplace–from Carbondale to McHenry, Danville to Rock Island,” Ziri said. “We must do better as a state.”

HB 4572 would have synchronized the Illinois Human Rights Act with ordinances in Cook County and Chicago that already apply to employers with one or more employees. Thus, HB 4572 would have its biggest impact on workers outside of Cook County. That is important to LGBTQ working people and the families they support in communities across the Land of Lincoln. It would also put Illinois on equal footing with states, such as Iowa and Minnesota, whose laws that protect workers from discrimination include businesses with fewer than 15 employees.