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5 new Illinois laws affecting workers, nursing moms and revenge porn victims

The state capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. | AP file photo

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, a raft of new laws will begin applying in Illinois. Below are five labor, domestic relations and criminal measures that will be added to the state’s statute come New Year’s Day.

Protection for victims of workplace stalking and harassment

This new law will include stalking victims under those who are protected from discrimination at work and other places under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Unlawful discrimination is when a person is denied opportunities because of race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or other statuses. Now, those who have filed an order of protection in court also cannot miss out on opportunities because of their status as a stalking victim. That means they are entitled to accommodations such as a reasonable, unpaid leave for court dates.

Employee reimbursement

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act will include an employee reimbursement provision, ensuring that workers are no longer made to incur out-of-pocket expenses because of work. All employers must reimburse employees for money spent fulfilling job duties that directly benefit the company, including using a personal cell phone or computer.

The new law won’t cover costs due to the employee’s negligence, normal wear or theft. Employees also won’t be guaranteed compensation if their job contract has a different reimbursement policy they failed to follow.

Lactation rooms at courthouses and Nursing mothers jury exemption

This new law requires all Illinois courthouses to provide private lactation rooms for nursing parents to pump breast milk. The spaces cannot be inside a restroom, for hygiene reasons, and must include a chair, table and electrical outlet. The Illinois Supreme Court will prescribe further guidelines, such as whether a specific courthouse’s lactation room should also install a running sink. The areas will be open to any nursing person regardless of whether they are at the courthouse for work or to fulfill civic duties.

In addition, all mothers nursing their children will be exempt from jury duty, if they ask.

Compensation for revenge porn victims

Victims of revenge porn and and other unlawful circulation of graphic material will be able to receive compensation under a new law that expands the definition of a violent crime under the Crime Victims Compensation Act.

The act, established in 1973, provides victims and their families up to $27,000 to support them in recovery from crimes such as murder, assault, sexual assault and domestic violence. Those who have suffered from someone posting graphic material of them on a pornography site or someone sharing private sexual images of them without their consent can apply for the fund.

The money, which is paid as a reimbursement, is meant to offset costs for psychiatric treatment or counseling that may be needed as a result of the crime. Victims must apply within two years of the crime or within one year of the suspect being criminally charged — whichever date is later.

Those with questions about the fund or who have been struggling with the aftermath of a violent crime can call a toll-free Crime Victims Assistance Line at 1-800-228-3368.