Employers Must Prepare for New Employment Laws Set to Take Effect in 2020

As we enter the final quarter of 2019, employers must begin to look ahead and begin preparing for a number of new employment laws that will take effect January 1, 2020. Even though employers have nearly 100 days to review and revise their employment policies, they should start familiarizing themselves now with the new requirements, training management in compliance, and preparing to implement any new procedures come the start of 2020.

Department of Labor’s new overtime exemption rules

Most employers are familiar with the overtime exemptions under federal law. Effective January 1, 2020, the criteria for many of those exemptions will change requiring employers to review their exempt employees to determine which employees will remain exempt after the new rules take effect in 2020.

Under the Department of Labor’s new rules, the salary level to qualify for the white-collar employee exemptions—executive, administrative, and professional—will increase. Under the existing rules, a white-collar employee can qualify as exempt if his salary is at least $455 per week or $23,660 per year. The new rules increase the minimum salary level by approximately 50% to $684 per week or $35,568.

Additionally, the salary level required for the highly compensated employee exemption will be increased from $100,000 to $107,432 (of which at least $684 must be paid per week on a salary or fee basis). Employers may use non-discretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and commissions to satisfy up to 10% of the salary requirements for exemptions, provided that they are paid at least quarterly. Most exemptions include requirements concerning the nature of the employee’s standard duties. After hearing feedback during the rulemaking process, the DOL decided not to make any changes to the standard duty tests.

Changes to Illinois law affecting employers

Employers in Illinois will have several new employment-related obligations related under new laws signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. One new law includes amendments to the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act changing the drug testing and discrimination requirements to account for the decriminalization of recreational marijuana use. Under the new law, employers will be prohibited from disciplining or firing employees who test positive for marijuana unless the employer has reasonable suspicion that the employee was impaired while working or on call. The new law will not impact the U.S. Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations.

The Illinois Human Rights Act has also been amended effective as of the beginning of 2020. The amendments seek to expand anti-discrimination protections to almost all employers, even those who have as few one employees, and expand the scope of the Act’s protection to not only employees but also to independent contractors and consultants. Employers will also be required now to provide sexual harassment prevention training on an annual basis. This requirement applies not only to Illinois employers but to any employer with employees working in Illinois. Employers also will be required to report annually to State regulators’ adverse rulings and certain settlements from the prior year.

Finally, The Workplace Transparency Act prohibits employers from requiring current or prospective employees to waive, arbitrate, “or otherwise diminish” existing or future claims, rights, or benefits related to unlawful discrimination, harassment, or retaliation and places restrictions on employee confidentiality agreements.

Super Lawyers named Illinois business and employment law trial attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer and Illinois employment and business dispute attorney Patrick Austermuehle a Rising Star in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex employment, wage law violation, overtime, class action, collective action, non-compete agreement, discrimination and various other types of business and commercial litigation disputes. Our Waukegan and Lake Forest business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business lawsuits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely-held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist Chicago and Oak Brook area businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling (630) 333-0333 or our toll-free number (833) 306-4933.  You can also contact us online here.

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