sb 2161SPRINGFIELD — Legislation prohibiting employer discrimination based on family obligations has passed the Senate and is one step closer to becoming law, thanks to efforts from State Senator Natalie Toro.

“Why should employees be punished for their family responsibilities if they have demonstrated that they do not impact their work performance?” said Toro (D-Chicago). “Working parents and family caregivers deserve to be treated the same as their colleagues without family responsibilities, especially when employers are making hiring decisions. I am glad this measure will protect employees from unfair treatment and empower people with family responsibilities to achieve success in their careers.”

Under current law, workplace discrimination based on gender, race, sexuality and other characteristics is prohibited, but does not explicitly protect people with family obligations. Family obligations include providing care for a family member, such as young children, older adults and people with disabilities. This means that prospective employees with children can currently be passed up for job opportunities in favor of applicants without children or family caregiving obligations because caregivers are an unprotected class.

House Bill 2161 would prohibit workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on family obligations. This helps ensure fair treatment regardless of outside responsibilities, allowing employees to be evaluated for the merits of their work, not assumptions based on their home lives.

“Finding outside care for a newborn or elderly loved one is nearly impossible, especially with ever-rising costs of nursing homes and daycare services,” said State Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), the lead House sponsor of the initiative. “To add insult to injury, families who are open and honest about their family care needs are being denied employment and advancement opportunities because companies think they won't work as hard as other candidates. It’s an outdated notion, but with real world consequences. This legislation will ensure that working families do not need to jump through unnecessary hurdles to make ends meet.”

House Bill 2161 passed the Senate on Thursday.