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Chicago Amends Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: What Employers Need to Know

The City of Chicago has amended its Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (the “Ordinance”), providing new reasons for taking paid sick leave under the Ordinance, and adding a new remedy for Chicago employees alleging wage theft against their employers (collectively, the “Amendments”). The Amendments are in full effect as of August 1, 2021, and employers should carefully review their policies and practices to ensure compliance. For additional background on the Ordinance, please refer to BCLP’s earlier post here.

New Cause of Action for Wage Theft

The Amendments create a new cause of action for wage theft. The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“IWPCA”) already prohibited wage theft, and employees in Chicago already had the right to bring claims for untimely or incomplete payment of wages in state court. The Amendments give “Covered Employees” in Chicago a new remedy separate and apart from the IWPCA. Covered Employees are defined as those employees who work at least two (2) hours during any two-week time period in the City of Chicago, including time travelling for deliveries or sales calls but not including uncompensated commuting time.

Now, Covered Employees may file a claim of wage theft with the Chicago

Illinois Enacts Sweeping Reforms to Non-Compete and Non-Solicit Agreements—What All Employers Need To Know

The Illinois General Assembly has enacted sweeping changes to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, 820 ILCS § 90, et seq. (the “Act”), which will limit the use of covenants not to compete (“non-competes”) and covenants not to solicit (“non-solicits”) in employment agreements to employees earning more than certain compensation thresholds established by the amendments to the Act. The amendments to the Act also impose certain additional procedural requirements on employers utilizing non-competes and non-solicits.  Senate Bill 672 (“SB 672”) passed unanimously in the Illinois House and Senate, and Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the bill.

Here’s what employers need to know.

  1. Do the changes in SB 672 impact existing employment agreements containing restrictive covenants?

No.  SB 672 applies to non-competes and non-solicits entered into after January 1, 2022.  Employers should review any form and/or template agreements to ensure compliance going forward, but need not make changes to agreements entered into before January 1, 2022, in order to comply with the Act. That said, if employers are considering revising their restrictive covenant forms, they should begin that process now, especially if they intend to ask existing employees to sign new forms prior to January 1,

Employee COVID Vaccination Status: You Asked. They Answered. Now What?

As employers make plans to modify pandemic-related work-from-home arrangements and require employees to come into the workplace, many have wrestled with “the vaccination status question.” Should employers ask employees whether they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or even require employees to provide proof of vaccination before returning to work (subject to certain accommodation obligations)?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) COVID-19 Guidance has made clear that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”), employers are generally permitted to inquire about vaccination status, because the question is not a disability-related inquiry or a medical examination.  In light of this guidance, many employers have opted to ask the vaccination status question, and are doing so in various voluntary or mandatory ways, e.g., through surveys, through required completion of forms or attestations, or even by requesting proof of vaccination (i.e., a copy or photograph of the employee’s CDC-issued vaccination card received at the time of vaccination).

But once the vaccination status question is asked and answered, what can and should an employer do with the vaccination status information? Can it be the basis for employment-related decisions? Are there any restrictions on

Illinois Amends Employee Sick Leave Act, Expanding Coverage to Include “Personal Care” for Covered Family Members

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (ESLA), permitting employees to take leave for a covered family member’s “personal care.”

Enacted in 2017, the ESLA requires Illinois employers to permit employees to use half of their annual accrued sick leave under an existing sick leave policy for absences related to the illness, injury, or medical appointment of certain family members. For example, an employee who accrues 40 hours of sick leave each year is entitled to use 20 hours of such time for family leave purposes. Notably, the ESLA does not require employers to provide paid sick leave—it only applies to those employers who already provide leave to their employees. So, once an employer offers sick leave, it must allow employees to use available leave for family-care purposes listed in the ESLA.  For more information on the ESLA, please refer to this earlier article.

Under the recent amendment to the ESLA, employees must now be permitted to take sick leave for the “personal care” of a “covered family member.”

  • “Covered family member” includes an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.

Chicago Employers Must Permit Time Off For COVID-19 Vaccination, Including Paid Time Off For Mandatory Vaccinations

Pursuant to the Chicago Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance that took effect on April 21, 2021, Chicago workers – including both employees and independent contractors – now have certain protections designed to safeguard access to a COVID-19 vaccination. Under the Ordinance, an employer, defined as any person or entity that engages the services of one or more individual for payment:

  • May not take adverse action against any worker for taking time during scheduled work time to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination;
  • May not require a worker to get vaccinated only during non-working (non-shift) hours; and
  • Must permit workers to use accrued or available paid time off, including but not limited to paid sick leave, for the purpose of getting vaccinated (as discussed here, the Illinois Department of Labor has more broadly encouraged all Illinois employers to permit employees to use available paid time off for this purpose).

In addition, if an employer has made vaccination mandatory for workers, then the employer:

  • Must compensate the worker for time, up to 4 hours per vaccine dose (one or two doses, as required based on the type of COVID-19 vaccine received), that the worker takes to get the vaccine, if the

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Now Required For Illinois Employees – Is Your Training Compliant?

Employers in recent months have understandably been laser-focused on COVID-19. However, Illinois employers – including employers who are largely based outside of Illinois but have even one employee who works in Illinois – should be mindful of their new obligation to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training before the end of the year (and yearly thereafter) under the Illinois Workplace Transparency Act (“WTA”) and its amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”). Recently, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) published its Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Program (the “Model Training”), which should be used as a guideline for ensuring employers’ own training programs comply with the WTA.

Administration of the Training

All Illinois employers must implement a sexual harassment prevention training program by the end of 2020 and subsequently provide the training on an annual basis. Unlike in some other states, there are no length or format requirements for the training, except that the training must be “interactive,” must be accessible to employees with disabilities, and must be accessible to employees who speak languages other than English.

The minimum content requirements for all employees are:

  1. An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the definition provided in

U.S. COVID-19: Biometrics and Business Re-Opening

Now that wearing gloves has become the new normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic, biometric privacy litigation, which in recent years has centered on employers’ use of finger-scan timekeeping technology, may ultimately shift in focus to the measures that businesses implement as employees return to the workplace and customers begin to frequent their favorite establishments.  Body temperature checks, used to screen employees and visitors for a fever, are one such measure being considered as a first line of defense for public health.

To mount a defense against, or avoid altogether, biometric privacy class action litigation, businesses open to the public and employers must have a comprehensive understanding of the thermometer or thermal imaging technology selected—and the data it captures—before rolling out temperature screenings on a widespread basis.  Among the technologies available are:

  • Non-contact infrared thermometers that use lasers to measure temperature from a distance;
  • Thermal imaging cameras that detect elevated skin temperatures compared against a sample of average temperature values;
  • Monitoring systems that use thermal and color visual imaging to detect fevers in high-volume pedestrian areas; and
  • “Wearables” that can use radiometric thermometry measuring electromagnetic wave emissions.

While temperature screening has been endorsed by the Centers for Disease

U.S. COVID-19: Returning High Risk Employees To The Workplace: Best Intentions Could Be Bad News For Employers

Employers preparing to reopen their places of business have many logistical considerations, including compliance with state and local health orders relating to face coverings, temperature and wellness screenings, and other measures designed to help keep employees healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) updated its own “Return to Work” guidance by adding Q&A guidance on how employers should handle a “high risk” employee, i.e., an employee with an existing and known disability that may make the employee more susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19.  The guidance is a helpful reminder to employers that even actions taken with the best of intentions may not comply with legal obligations and restrictions.  Below are three important questions for employers to consider in light of the EEOC’s updated guidance.

How does the Interactive Process Apply to COVID-Related Requests for Accommodation?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), employers are obligated to consider requests from a disabled employee for reasonable accommodations to the employee’s work environment that would permit him or her to perform the essential functions of the job. While the EEOC’s

U.S. COVID-19: OSHA & Your Reopening Plans: A Step-By-Step Guide for Employers

As state and local governments begin to ease restrictions on businesses and increasingly look to “reopen” economic activity, employers are evaluating how to safely return employees to the workplace. This preparation must include not only understanding the parameters of state and local orders (which often include basic social distancing measures, such as staying 6 feet apart, or requiring employees to wear face coverings), but also considering obligations under standards set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”).

Below is a guide for employers to consider as they evaluate safe return-to-work strategies during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please consult BCLP’s additional guidance for a broader discussion of other considerations when developing a “reopening plan.”

Step 1: Review state and local orders to determine whether a business or workplace is permitted to reopen.

As an initial step, an employer must determine whether, when and to what extent it can open and maintain in-person operations. State and local orders vary in their definitions of “essential businesses” permitted to operate. For example, Georgia’s recent “reopening” orders only grant a small subset of businesses permission to reopen. BCLP is tracking the current status of state and local shelter-in-place orders

U.S. COVID-19: Mask and Facial Covering Orders—Four Things Employers Need to Know and Do to Comply with New Obligations

Across the country, state and local governments are considering safe ways to “reopen” their economies and revise some of their strict shelter-in-place orders. One such consideration includes masks and “face coverings,” with many implementing a requirement that members of the public, including employees reporting to work, wear such coverings.  Below are four things that employers should do now to be prepared to comply with mask and face covering requirements as they “reopen” their businesses.

  1. Continue to Monitor Public Health Guidance

Public health authorities at the federal, state, and local levels are likely to continue revising their recommendations on face coverings as they learn more about COVID-19. For example, last month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued guidance recommending that individuals wear “cloth face coverings”[1] in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC makes clear that the purpose of such coverings is primarily to “help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” In other words, a face covering primarily protects others from an asymptomatic

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