By now most people are familiar with the #MeToo movement. The movement began in 2006 by women, specifically Tarana Burke and women of color from low wealth communities, to help survivors of sexual violence. Eleven years after the movement was founded, it exploded during the fall of 2017 when well-known women in the entertainment industry began to use the famous #MeToo hashtag and shared their stories of sexual, discrimination, abuse and harassment. Two and half years later, there has been some change, but not enough. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, said the biggest impact of #MeToo is that it decreased the stigma associated with sexual abuse and harassment and increased awareness.
In March 2019, Senator Brian Schatz and Senator Roy Blunt introduced a bill to Congress designed to provide oversight for facial recognition technology, known as the Commercial Facial Recognition Privacy Act. If passed, this law could change the way Americans deal with privacy.
In September, the Department of Labor announced a final revised “Overtime Rule” set to take effect on January 1, 2020, that raises the “standard-salary level” from $455 to $684 weekly to an annual total of $35,568. This will entitle anyone making less than this standard salary to receive fifty percent more in hourly wages for any hours worked in excess of forty in one week because they are no longer “exempted” from the overtime pay requirement in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Rule is expected to allow 1.3 million previously-exempt workers access to overtime pay. Workers who make more than this threshold can still receive overtime pay if their roles do not include substantial decision making such as administrative, professional, or executive jobs.
If you are a law student, lawyer, or have any association with lawyers, you have likely heard of the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA has a great deal of influence in the legal profession, politics, the corporate world, and beyond. Recently, the ABA made headlines after a judicial nominee cried to the Senate during his Senate Committee hearing. This was, in part, due to the ABA’s influence. An ABA evaluator sent a scathing letter to the committee, putting into question the nominee’s character. This letter came under attack by Republicans for its alleged biased and untruthful nature. Despite the dividing nature of the letter, the ABA’s impact is undeniable.
In 2008, the Illinois legislature introduced and passed the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which became the first law of its kind in the US. BIPA was passed to protect individuals against the unlawful collection and storing of biometric information. While many states have enacted similar laws, BIPA remains the most stringent among its contemporaries.
On July 31, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 834 into law amending the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003. The law, which will go into effect on September 29, 2019, makes it unlawful for employers to ask applicants about their salary history. Governor Pritzker signed the Bill with the intention of eliminating the wage gap that exists between men and women in Illinois. In 2019, half of the Illinois workforce is women, but women working in Illinois earn 79 percent of what men earn. The wage gap is exacerbated for women of color. According to The American Association of University Women, Black women in the United States are paid 61 cents for every dollar paid to a white man. As a result of the amended law, Illinois employers will need to act quickly to make changes to their hiring procedures.
During Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s election campaign, he heavily advocated for Illinois to be more accommodating to recreational marijuana usage. In Illinois, medical marijuana has already been legalized, and new bills are being introduced to make it more accessible. If recreational marijuana is legalized, Illinois will join ten states, and the District of Colombia, in its authorization.
Corporate success was once measured by the numbers on a balance sheet. Today, however, corporations have entered a new era where morals and ethics are increasingly important. Whether this change is a product of outside influence or internal conflict, there is a new trend in corporate culture. Given the business expertise and media-friendly personalities of many CEOs, they may be the leaders chosen to lead the change.
The City of Chicago enacted the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to protect employees who work within the city limits. Effective July 1, 2017, the Ordinance requires employers who operate or conduct business in the City of Chicago to provide Paid Sick Leave to eligible employees. While there are some limitations about who is a “Covered Employee,” the Ordinance sets a precedent for worker’s rights. Only eight states have enacted Paid Sick Leaves Laws. Illinois is not one of those states; however the City of Chicago may be moving Illinois workers one step closer to mandatory paid sick leave.
On November 6, 2018, Massachusetts voters will determine whether they want to establish patient assignment limitations for registered nurses working in hospitals. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (“MNA”) has been the driving force behind the proposed legislation. After acquiring more than 100,000 signatures for the initiative to appear on the ballot and a victorious litigation outcome regarding the legislation’s employment implications on hospitals, the Massachusetts voters will ultimately determine the legislation’s fate.