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Illinois Wage Bill Substantially Increases Employer Penalties for Wage Violations

Labor & Employment Law Alert Tracy Bradford Farley

This fall, the Illinois Senate could vote on a bill that would significantly increase penalties for employers found liable for wage violations. Illinois Senate Bill 1565 proposes several amendments to the Illinois Wage Law, including an increase to the Illinois minimum wage of more than $0.50.[1]

The bill would also increase the civil penalties that a court may award when it finds an employer liable for wage violations. Under the current statute, courts award damages equal to 2 percent of the unpaid wage amount for every month that wages remain unpaid.[2] Senate Bill 1565 would increase damages to twice the amount of unpaid wages and remove the monthly accretion system.[3] Employers would also pay post-judgment interest, costs and attorneys fees.[4] 

Sponsors in the Illinois Senate proposed the bill in February 2011. Last May, the bill passed the Senate Executive Committee and could be headed for a vote on the Senate floor as early as this fall.

If you have any questions about Illinois Senate Bill 1565, please contact Tracy Bradford Farley at (312) 715-5214 / [email protected] or your local Quarles & Brady attorney.

[1] The bill proposes annual increases of $0.50, plus adjustments for the cost of living, until the Illinois minimum wage equals the (inflation-adjusted) equivalent of $1.60, per hour, in 1968. The bill then calls for annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index from the preceding year. S.B. 1565, 97th Gen. Assemb. Reg. Sess. (Il. 2011).
[2] 820 ILCS 105/12(a) (2012).
[3] S.B. 1565, 97th Gen. Assemb. Reg. Sess. (Il. 2011).
[4] Id.