Recently the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act was passed which prohibits employers and prospective employers from requesting passwords or related account information to access (prospective) employees' social networking profiles.
However, Senate Bill 2306 carves out an exception to that existing law. If the password or access sought by the employer relates to a professional account and not a personal account, nothing in the provisions otherwise prohibits an employer from complying with a duty to screen employees or applicants before hiring or to monitor or retain employee communications as required under Illinois insurance laws or federal law or by a self-regulatory organization as defined in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. This exception passed the Senate on third reading and is currently in the House.
House Bill 2747 amends 5 ILCS 140/3 to allow written Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to be submitted to a public body by electronic mail. It further requires each public body to post an email address where requests for public records may be directed. The Bill passed in the House on March 22 and was sent to the Senate that day.
The Illinois Appellate Court reversed and remanded the lower court in Soto v. The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners of the City of St. Charles, Illinois, 2013 IL App (2d) 120677 (March 21, 2013).
The Court held that where there could be multiple bases for a Board's decision to not hire an applicant, but no findings were made, remand to issue findings is appropriate.
The court must determine whether the Board relied on improper factors in making its employment decision, or whether its decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence, not merely identify in the record reasons that could justify the Board's decision where such findings have not been made.
On February 26, 2013, the Illinois Appellate Court issued a ruling in Williams v. OSF Healthcare System, 2013 Ill. App. (3d) 120450.In the underlying action, Williams, the maintenance director of a nursing home, alleged that he was fires in violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act (740 ILCS 174/1 et seq.). Williams had told Illinois Department of Public Health inspector that an alteration had not been made to sidewalk slope, and that slope violated IDPH regulations for handicap access. He asserted that he was fired because of this report.
Williams' position was that liability under the Whistleblower Act depends on an employee’s reasonable belief, not the knowledge of the governmental agency (i.e., there is no original source requirement). The trial court granted OSF's motion to dismiss, agreeing that there was no "disclosure" under the Act because the inspector had, or would have, discovered the violation on his own.The Appellate Court reversed and remanded, holding, "If an employee had reasonable cause to believe there was a violation of a state or federal law, rule or regulation, and he disclosed that to a governmental agency, he is protected from any employer retaliation by the Whistleblower Act. The language focuses on the employee’s belief; the focus is not on what the government agency already knows or could discover."
Illinois is an employment at-will state. This means that an employer may fire an employee at any time for any reason at all (or without any reason at all). There is no law against unfairness.
However, an employee cannot be fired for an illegal reason such as discrimination, retaliation, or because an employee took FMLA leave. There are other reasons that are also illegal. To learn whether a particular firing was illegal, you may wish to talk to a employment lawyer about the situation.
With limited exceptions, in Illinois, employers must allow employees who are to work for 7 1/2 continuous hours or longer, at least 20 minutes for a meal beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the work period. 820 ILCS 140/3.
This means for most employees who work from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., your employer must give you at least a 20 minute lunch starting no later than 2 p.m..
The law provides exceptions for:
(1) employees whose meal periods are established through the collective bargaining process; and
(2) employees who monitor individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illness, and who are required to be on call during an entire 8 hour work period. However, those employees shall be allowed to eat a meal during the 8 hour work period while continuing to monitor those individuals.
Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law, a bill giving Illinois employees and prospective employees more rights. That law makes it illegal for employers to ask job applicants for passwords to their online profiles. The law, which is an amendment to the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (820 ILCS 55/10), takes effect on Jan. 1. It protects both current employees and prospective hires. Notably, the legislation, does not stop employers from viewing information that is not restricted by privacy settings on a website. Employers are also free to set workplace policies on the use of the internet, social networking sites, and email.
The only other state with a similar law is Maryland. However, several other states are considering similar bans, including Washington, Delaware and New Jersey. Additionally, two federal bills have been proposed.This legislation was a response to a recent trend where some employers started asking for prospective employees's passwords to their personal accounts on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
About two months ago, we explained a bit about the Illinois eavesdropping law and how it was being attacked in the courts. (See the May blog entry here).Some of the attempts to change this law have been stalled. In particular, state lawmakers have two bills that have been proposed but both have not made it far. At this point, it appears that the sponsors of the bills will bring up the topic when the General Assembly reconvenes in the fall.For more information about what the sponsors of the bills have said, see this Chicago Tribune article.
The Illinois legislature approved a bill after a unanimous vote in the Illinois Senate that now is waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign into law. The bill protects employees and prospective employees from having to provide social media passwords to current or prospective employers.If signed, Illinois would join Maryland as the first states to implement such a law.Read the proposed law here.
Illinois' Eavesdropping law is under attack both in the courts and in the legislature. The law currently makes it illegal to audio record conversation unless all parties to conversation give their consent.
Currently, there is a bill that would weaken the state’s strict eavesdropping law is moving forward in the Illinois Legislature.
Additionally, the 7th Cir. issued a ruling in American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois v. Alvarez, No. 11-1286. The court held that the Dist. Ct. erred in dismissing plaintiffs' action based on standing. In the underlying action, the plaintiff challenged the Ill. eavesdropping statute on First Amendment grounds, where the plaintiff sought to openly make audio-visual recordings of police officers performing their duties in public places and speaking at volume audible to bystanders.
The Seventh Circuit held that standing was established where plaintiff's proposed action of recording police officers increased likelihood of arrest and prosecution under the statute, and where defendant's office had previously filed three cases asserting violation of the statute against individuals, who had recorded on-duty police officers. The Seventh Circuit further found that plaintiffs were entitled to entry of preliminary injunction that would block defendant from enforcing the IL eavesdropping statute as applied to plaintiffs' proposed actions since because under immediate scrutiny standard, the statute restricted far more speech than was necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests and otherwise violated free-speech and free-press guarantees.
The question remains whether the ruling applies to everyone in the state.