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On May 20, 2020, Chicago passed the “COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance,” making it illegal for employers with employees in the City of Chicago to retaliate against employees who stay home: to follow public health orders related to COVID-19, to quarantine because of COVID-19 symptoms, or to care for an individual ill with COVID-19. Enacted as an amendment to Chicago’s Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, the Anti-Retaliation Ordinance prohibits employers from terminating, demoting, or taking other adverse action against employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.

What do I need to know?

Under the Ordinance, an employer cannot terminate, demote, or take any other adverse action against an employee for obeying an order issued by Mayor Lightfoot, Governor Pritzker, or the Chicago Department of Public Health (or, in the case of subsections (2) through (4) below, a treating healthcare provider) requiring the employee to:

  1. Stay at home to minimize the transmission of COVID-19;
  2. Remain at home while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or while being sick with COVID-19;
  3. Obey a quarantine order issued to the employee (to keep an employee who has come into contact with an infected person separate from others);
  4. Obey an isolation order issued to the employee (to separate an employee with COVID-19 from others); or
  5. Obey an order issued by the Commissioner of Health regarding the duties of hospitals and other congregate facilities.

In addition, an employer cannot take adverse action against an employee for caring for an individual subject to subsections (1) through (3) above.

The Ordinance became effective on May 20, 2020, and will expire (unless City Council intervenes) when the Commissioner of Public Health makes a written determination “that the threat to public health posed by COVID-19 has diminished to the point that [the] ordinance can safely be repealed.”


Continue Reading Chicago Employers: Allow Your Employees to Obey COVID-19 Public Health Orders, or Else

Recently, Southwest Airlines won a second major victory when Northern District of Illinois Judge Seeger granted its motion to dismiss claims brought under Illinois’ unique Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Crooms v. Southwest Airlines Co., Case No. 19-cv-2149.

Plaintiffs alleged Southwest violated BIPA by requiring them to scan their fingers when clocking in and out of work without giving them the written notice or receiving their consent as required by BIPA. When initially employed, three of the plaintiffs were represented by the Transportation Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO Local 555 (“TWU”) and were covered by a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). The CBAs at issue provided Southwest had the “right to manage and direct the work force” and included a mandatory four-step grievance and arbitration procedure for resolution of disputes. Plaintiffs were later promoted to Ramp Supervisors, a non-union position and agreed to comply with Southwest’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Program.  The fourth named plaintiff was never covered by a CBA but was always a party to the ADR Program.


Continue Reading “This Case Does Not Belong In Federal Court” — Southwest Secures Dismissal of Illinois Biometric Lawsuit

On May 1 certain ILLINOIS employers got the green light to begin reopening, after the entry of a modified statewide stay-at-home order. Employers must require employees to maintain social distancing or must wear masks provided by the Company. We take you through the details below:

What does the order say about face covering, social distancing, and hygiene for business employers?

The order’s requirements for business employers depends on the type of business.

Are there rules for non-essential stores?


Continue Reading Reopening in Illinois? Provide a mask!

Government-imposed stay-at-home orders, essential business designations, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and employers’ duty to bargain under the National Labor Relations Act recently collided. To complicate matters, unions have proven very aggressive in their demands for information about employer’s responses to COVID-19.

Many unions have demanded decision bargaining over layoffs, or changes in health

In February 2020, the NLRB finally unveiled its long-awaited joint-employer rule governing joint-employer status under the NLRA. The final rule returns the test for determining joint employment to the standard the Board applied for several decades before the 2015 Browning-Ferris decision. The test set forth by the new joint-employer rule provides that a business is a joint employer only if it has “substantial direct and immediate control” over another company’s workers and actually exercises that control. While this is no doubt a welcome relief for employers who routinely contract with subcontractors and staffing companies, it is important to note the limited scope and that this rule does not impact joint-employer tests applied under other employment laws. The proposed rule was initially released in late 2018 and ultimately generated nearly 30,000 public comments (see our coverage here).

Although the rule is an employer-friendly change, employees who are terminated for engaging in protected concerted actives will continue to have a claim for relief against their primary employer. Similarly, union organizing efforts can continue amongst temporary employees as they have for years. Bargaining will continue to occur as it always has between employers and their employees’ union representatives. The labor movement, however, is likely disappointed by the demise of the 2015 Browning-Ferris rule.  For years, unions have chaffed at the prohibition against secondary boycotts contained in the Taft Hartley Act of 1947. The 2015 Browning-Ferris rule allowed a backdoor repeal of a significant portion of the secondary boycott ban with its loose definition of joint employer.


Continue Reading Much Ado About Joint Employers at the NLRB

The 2020 presidential race is well underway in the U.S. Labor policy has been and will continue to be a key talking point for Democratic candidates and President Donald Trump moving into the general election.

In part one of this two-part article, we examine the key labor policy proposals advanced by the leading Democratic contenders

As the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads into the broader economy, human resource professionals are finding that grappling with the consequences are more complicated in union-represented workforces. In a union workforce, the employer must determine what it has already agreed it will do, the extent of its freedom to address the scenarios created by COVID-19, and the legal framework within which it must act. Below we offer several considerations for employers to adopt.

First, examine the collective bargaining agreement. This will allow you to determine the extent of the company’s freedom to act independently and expeditiously. The place to start is to determine management’s right to schedule work, to idle the plant, to send workers home and to lay-off employees. Determine the restrictions, if any, in these rights, such as call-in pay or weekly guarantees.


Continue Reading Managing COVID-19 In A Union Workforce In The US

In a significant decision for the service provider community, this month the National Labor Relations Board dismissed a claim that an employer was required to provide its employees’ union the service contracts it had with its customer. G4S Security Solutions USA, Inc. 369 NLRB No. 7 (2020). The panel decision was unanimous. Notably, however, the decision left open the possibility that a union could require the production of a service agreement if it could demonstrate the agreement was relevant to bargaining.

Continue Reading Withholding Service Contracts Not Unlawful

The Seventh Circuit significantly narrowed the EEOC’s broad interpretation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) last month. The court held that the ADA does not cover discrimination based on a future impairment.

The Seventh Circuit determined that the “regarded as having” prong of the ADA does not extend to applicants who are rejected due to an employer’s concerns about future disabilities. Shell v. Burlington N. Santa Fe Ry Co. The Seventh Circuit joins the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits in holding that the present tense “having” in the ADA does not include the future tense “will have.” The facts here involved an obese applicant, and not an applicant with an existing predisposition, so its practical impact may be narrower than at first blush.


Continue Reading From The Seventh Circuit: Future Disabilities Not Protected Under The ADA

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in First Student Inc. v. NLRB suggests the judicially-created “perfectly clear” successorship standard to determine whether a company inherited its predecessor’s bargaining agreement is ripe for a challenge.

A divided panel concluded that under the National Labor Relations Act, the “perfectly clear” successor standard applied to a successor