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Measures to place more regulations on employers and landlords advance

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(The Center Square) – The Illinois House advanced several measures that would place more regulations on the state’s job creators.

House Bill 3763 would allow an employee’s legal representation to request access to personnel records, not just the employee himself.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, asked why the bill was necessary. The sponsor of the bill is state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago.

“So for instance, if an employee gets laid off in a hostile work environment, they have a right to their personnel records from that employer,” said Guzzardi. “Right now, as the courts have interpreted this law, that employee needs to go present themself and request these records. We think it is better for everybody if their lawyer could just get these records. If there’s tension between the employer and former employee, let’s just have an attorney submit the records request and have them be delivered to that person’s representative.”

The bill says the employee’s representative, which could be a lawyer or a translator, has to submit a written request to the employer. The employee’s representative, under the proposed law, would have to demonstrate that he or she has consent of the employee to obtain personnel records. Guzzardi said the bill doesn’t add more burden on businesses.

The National Federation of Independent Business Illinois said year after year, the General Assembly votes to put yet more record-keeping and administrative requirements on small businesses.

“While each one, individually, may appear minor, they are cumulative, absorbing more and more of the small business owner’s time and energy,” NFIB State Director in Illinois Noah Finely told The Center Square. “If small employers make a mistake or overlook a requirement, too often they can get hit by lawsuits or governmental fines.”

NFIB said HB3763 additionally requires employers to turn over employee personal records to third parties upon text message request, eliminating the ability of employers to require the request to be submitted in writing on an employer-approved form.

A bill that would expand the Human Rights Act would make employers liable for harassment of its employees by the employer’s non managerial and nonsupervisory employees, nonemployees and third parties if the employer becomes aware of the conduct and fails to take corrective measures.

House Bill 5371 passed the House, but state. Rep Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, voted “no,” saying the legislation would force landlords to enter into lease agreements with illegal immigrants, which would jeopardize their source of income should that person end up being deported.

“I voted no because I do not want to put landlords in a position where they are financially compromised because of state policies and state initiatives. Someone who is here illegally should not automatically have legal protections to enter into rental agreements given the fact that their ability to commit to the full term of a lease is in doubt. It is time for Illinois to prioritize our own citizens and put the needs of our own citizens first,” said Halbrook.

Fellow Republican state Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, voted “yes” for the bill.

“I want to thank you for working with both the bankers and the realtors to clear up some of the issues they had,” said Keicher.

A sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, said the measure was an initiative of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Williams said her bill changes the definition of “real estate transactions” in the Illinois Human Rights Act to align the term with federal standards.

“We strengthened the relief the state can obtain in discriminatory pattern and practice claims. We [under the introduced measure] provide for additional opportunities for aggrieved parties to take action to collect judgments when there’s found to be discrimination,” said Williams.

The Illinois Realtors and the Illinois Bankers Association moved to a neutral position on the bill. The bill awaits action in the Senate.

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