Although small businesses have started to become more optimistic about their future, the state of Illinois can make it difficult for them to keep their doors open. A lot of the issues can be attributed to the growing list of regulations to which small businesses must comply. Now the state wants to add yet another regulation that could open small business owners up to frivolous and expensive lawsuits over purported discrimination. Learn more about this bill and what it could mean for your small business, and discover how our seasoned small business attorneys may be able to help you mitigate the issues that could arise if the bill is passed.
Lawmaker Pushing for Anti-Discrimination Bill
State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, is pushing for an anti-discrimination bill that would allow the employees of small businesses to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination based on gender, status, religion, or other identifying factors protected by law. If passed, the law would impact all businesses with 15 or more employees. Small businesses have been exempt from such lawsuits up to this point. A single lawsuit could cost the company tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars if the employee wins, and even if the employee loses, the legal fees could still be enough to drive a small business into bankruptcy.
Those who oppose the bill argue that most small businesses treat their employees more like family than workers – and they are correct. Most small businesses are working hard to increase their pool of quality employees – not fire them. When they do find the employees they are looking for, they tend to become part of a close-knit “family,” and are typically only let go for serious infractions. Firing them based on matters like gender or religion would be counterproductive to their goals and values.
Protecting Your Small Business from Discrimination Lawsuits
Whether your small business is just big enough to be covered under the current anti-discrimination laws, or you are at risk of facing them if the bill passes, it is critical that you have a solid and sound process for terminating employees. One should also have a clear and concise employee handbook that outlines what you expect out of your employees. Of course, drafting such a document typically requires a great deal of time and at least some knowledge of the law. Most small business owners lack in at least one of these areas (typically the time).
Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC understands the struggles that small businesses face because we are one. Backed by more than 40 years of legal experience, we can handle the legal aspects of protecting your business so that you can focus on what matters most. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule a consultation with our DuPage County small business lawyers to get started today.