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Chicago City Council Approves COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance; OSHA and CDC Release Additional Guidance

05/26/2020
A gold compass

Chicago Anti-Retaliation Ordinance

On May 20, 2020, effective immediately, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance that prohibits employers from terminating or demoting an employee because the employee stayed home from work in compliance with a health order or to care for a person subject to a health order.  Employees who are terminated or demoted will now be able to submit a complaint to the Office of Labor Standards – Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.  Employers who violate this ordinance will be subject to fines of up to $1,000 per offense per day, and employees who are wrongfully terminated may also file a civil lawsuit for up to three times the full amount of wages that they would have been owed had they not been terminated.  Employers who terminate or demote an employee in violation of the ordinance based on a reasonable interpretation of such order will not be subject to fines or a civil lawsuit as long as the employer cures the violation within 30 days of learning of the violation of the new ordinance.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) Releases New Enforcement Guidance

Effective May 26, 2020, OSHA issued revised guidance that will now require all employers to determine whether an employee COVID-19 illness is work-related.  Those cases that an employer reasonably and in good faith determines occurred in the workplace must be reported to OSHA.  Previously, OSHA issued interim guidance that OSHA would only require employers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations, and correction institutions to make work-relatedness determinations unless the employer had objective evidence that the COVID-19 case was work related and such evidence was reasonably available to the employer.

Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) Releases Workplace Reopening Guidance

Last week, the CDC issued additional guidance related to the reopening of the workplace including a Workplace Decision Tool, which gives employers a step-by-step guide to consider when determining whether and how to reopen the workplace.  The CDC also issued a guide entitled CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again.  This pamphlet includes guidance for state and local governments with respect to surveillance, infection control, contact tracing and testing, as well as specific guidance for schools, restaurants and bars, mass transit administrators, and employers who have high risk employees.

HMB Legal Counsel will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves. The ongoing issues related to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have had and will continue to have a significant impact on individuals, families, businesses and markets. Visit our collection of resources providing guidance during these fast-changing circumstances. Please reach out to your lead team member to answer specific questions.

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