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Illinois workers could soon be protected by stronger workplace anti-retaliation measures, thanks to legislation sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro.

“Workers across our state deserve safety and protection on the job,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “When an employee raises the alarm about something like a workplace hazard, we need to make sure laws are in place to safeguard them from retaliation. No one should be punished for speaking up to make working conditions safer for everyone.”

Castro is leading a measure to strengthen the current law prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who blow the whistle on unlawful practices, including public health or safety threats, in the workplace. The legislation enhances whistleblower protections by expanding definitions and protected activity, granting broader remedies to affected employees, and giving the Illinois Attorney General the ability to act on behalf of workers whose employers have retaliated against them for disclosing a dangerous or unlawful practice.

For some immigrant workers, standing up for their rights could mean risking their livelihood and that of their family. To stand up for these employees, the legislation also aims to grant broader protections and remedies to whistleblowers facing immigration-related retaliation, such as the threat of an employer contacting U.S. immigration authorities in response to a worker disclosing protected information.

“Immigrants in Illinois have some of the highest labor participation rates of any population; they are vital contributors to the economy, their communities and their families,” Castro said. “We need protections in place to make sure employers are not taking advantage of their workers by threatening to take immigration-related action to prevent them from speaking out.”

House Bill 5561 passed the Senate Thursday and is one step closer to becoming law.