Q. We are aware that the Illinois Civil Union Act is in effect. Could you please tell us more about it?
A. The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, commonly referred to as the Illinois Civil Union Act, went into effect in June 2011. The act provides that civil union couples are entitled to the same legal benefits and protections as married couples under Illinois law.
The new law brings up several labor and employment considerations.
The act affects Illinois’ FamilyAct, which allows spouses of persons in the military service to take up to 30 days of leave. It also affects the Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act, which allows spouses of victims of domestic or sexual violence to take up to 12 weeks of leave. These two leave types must be made available to civil union partners.
Employers should also take note that the Illinois Human Rights Act and Chicago Human Rights Ordinance both prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or marital status. Employers are advised to revisit their relevant policies and practices to ensure they cannot be viewed as evidencing a discriminatory motive.