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U.S. COVID-19: Chicago Ordinance Bars Retaliation For Taking COVID-19 Related Leave

As the result of an Ordinance that was passed and became effective on May 20, 2020, Chicago employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against employees who take leave for certain COVID-19 related reasons.

Covered Employers

The Ordinance applies to all employers who are covered by the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (“PSL Ordinance”), which went into effect in July 2017.  This includes any employer (any individual, partnership, association, corporation, limited liability company, business trust, or person/group of persons) that: (a) employs at least one Covered Employee, and (b) maintains a business facility within the geographic boundaries of Chicago and/or is subject to certain Chicago licensing requirements.

Covered Employees

Most employees are covered, so long as they work at least two 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).

Prohibited Retaliation

As part of a “[d]uty to allow Covered Employees to obey public health orders,” employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee “for obeying an order issued by the Mayor, the Governor of Illinois, the Chicago Department of Public Health, … or a treating healthcare provider [in the case of 2-4 below],” requiring an employee to:

  • Stay at home to minimize the transmission of COVID-19;
  • Remain at home while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or sick with COVID-19;
  • Obey a quarantine order issued to the Covered Employee;
  • Obey an isolation order issued to the Covered Employee;
  • 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:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with the definition provided in the IHRA;
  • Examples of conduct that constitutes unlawful sexual harassment;
  • A summary of federal and Illinois law concerning sexual harassment, including remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and
  • A summary of responsibilities of employers in the prevention, investigation and corrective measures of sexual harassment.
  • On April 28, 2020, IDHR released

    U.S. COVID-19: Illinois Employers Take Note: Key Employment Provisions of the Illinois COVID-19 Executive Order Effective May 1, 2020

    On April 30, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-32, effective May 1, extending social distancing requirements and, among other things, issuing new guidelines for Illinois employers.

    The key employment-related aspects of the Executive Order are as follows:

    • All employers are required to evaluate which employees are able to work from home, and are encouraged to facilitate remote working when possible.
    • All employers that have employees who are physically reporting to a work site must post this guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office of the Illinois Attorney General regarding workplace safety during the pandemic.
    • When working, all individuals who are able to medically tolerate a face covering (which includes “a mask or cloth face-covering”) are required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance. This includes public indoor spaces such as stores.
    • All employers operating Essential Businesses and Operations and engaged in Minimum Basic Operations must take proactive measures to ensure compliance with “Social Distancing Requirements.”
      • Social Distancing Requirements include: “maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.”
      • In addition, employers should, where possible:
        • Provide employees with “appropriate face coverings” and require that employees wear face coverings

    When HAL Conducts the Interview: Illinois Employers Face New Law Regarding Use of A.I. in Employment Interviews

    October 29, 2019

    Categories

    Technology has always had a significant impact on the way companies do business. With the increasing use of artificial intelligence (“A.I.”), no task is exempt from a robotic upgrade. In fact, a growing number of companies are utilizing A.I. to screen potential employees through, among other processes, the video interview. As the New Year approaches, it is important that Illinois employers familiarize themselves with changes in the law surrounding A.I. in hiring. Specifically, beginning January 1, 2020, employers using A.I. to screen applicant video interviews for Illinois-based employment will be subject to the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act (the “Act”).

    But What Is A.I. Video Interview Screening?

     Most A.I. screening of video interviews involves applicants recording themselves answering a series of interview questions. Like HAL, the conflicted computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, more sophisticated A.I. even has the ability to simulate “natural” human conversation with which interviewees interact. The video interview is then analyzed using “deep learning,” which is essentially an algorithm that evaluates several data points such as facial expressions, word choice, body language, vocal tone, etc. By the end of the analysis, the A.I. generates an applicant score based on the collected data points and, in some instances, provides a recommendation on whether the applicant is a good fit for the position sought.

    So How Does The Act Regulate A.I. Video Interview Screening?

    Here is what we know about the Act signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) on August 8, 2019:

    Requirements:

    • Employers must

    Preparation and Training Critical as Illinois Employers Face New Legal Landscape

    Illinois employers must begin preparing now for the host of new legal requirements impacting the workplace beginning in 2020.  With legal changes on topics ranging from hiring practices and pay equity to drug testing and severance agreements, employers should not only review and revise their policies, practices and expectations, but also ensure that their Human Resources and management personnel receive training to ensure compliance.

    Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”)

    Under new amendments to the IHRA, more employers are now subject to the IHRA, more protections are now provided to employees (and others), sexual harassment training is now a requirement, and employers now have reporting obligations to the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) regarding adverse judgments, administrative rulings, and settlements.  Specifically:

    • Beginning July 1, 2020, rather than applying only to employers with 15 or more employees, the IHRA applies to all employers with one or more employees in Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks. Newly covered employers should ensure that HR personnel and managers are aware of the areas in which the IHRA is broader than federal anti-discrimination laws, including but not limited to: (1) pregnancy accommodation requirements; (2) prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, marital status, and order-of-protection status; and (3) the potential for individual liability of harassers.
    • Beginning January 1, 2020, the scope of protection provided by the IHRA will expand. HR personnel and managers must be aware of the new protections so that they appropriately recognize and respond to concerns. 

    Impending Changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act: What Every Employer Needs to Know

    Responding in part to the #MeToo movement, state and local governments have begun expanding protections for those alleging discrimination and harassment in the workplace.  Last month, the Illinois General Assembly passed a series of amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (“the IHRA”) that may have a significant impact on employers if they are signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner.

    • House Bill 4572: Currently, the IHRA applies to employers who employ 15 or more employees within Illinois for at least 20 weeks per year.  HB 4572 would essentially cover all Illinois employers—any employer who employs one or more employee for at least 20 weeks per year.
    • Senate Bill 20: SB 20 makes several changes to the procedures of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) and the Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”). Among other things, SB 20 would:
      • Extend the charge-filing period from 180 days after an incident giving rise to a claim to 300 days after the incident;
      • Require the IDHR to notify all parties that the complainant may “opt out” of participating in the IDHR process within 60 days and commence a lawsuit in state court;
      • Change the make-up of the Commission from 13 part-time Commissioners to 7 full-time Commissioners, all of whom must either be licensed to practice law in Illinois or have relevant professional experience;
      • Create a temporary panel of 3 Commissioners to handle the backlog of requests for review; and
      • Require the publication of Commission decisions within 180 days.
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