Q. How are employees affected by the amendment to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act?
A. The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) sets forth how often employers must pay wages and provides assistance to workers to collect earned compensation. This summer, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law S.B. 3568, which toughens the IWPCA starting Jan. 1, 2011.
The legislation amended the IWPCA to provide better protection for employees. Once it takes effect, it will allow employees who believe they are owed wages to file a private lawsuit without having to first file a claim with the Illinois Department of Labor. Lawsuits can be filed in the county where the alleged violation took place or where an employee who is party to the action resides.
Employees will also be able to recover costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
The new amendment also provides a private right of action for an employee who has been retaliated against for reporting an alleged violation.
Additionally, the Illinois Department of Labor is authorized to establish a new adjudicative process for claims under $3,000. The amendment also increases penalties for employers that fail to pay workers.