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On November 8, 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act (the Act) that will prevent employees from relying on the Act to avoid employer COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandates. The amendment goes into effect on June 1, 2022.

Overview of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act

The Act was first passed in 1977 and was meant to protect from discrimination health care workers who participated in, or refused to participate in, the delivery or receipt of health care services that were “contrary to their conscience.”

Recently, however, some non-health care workers in Illinois have relied on the Act to claim an exemption from their employers’ COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements based on the Act’s broad language prohibiting discrimination “against any person in any manner” who refuses to “obtain, receive or accept” health care services or medical care. In fact, several lawsuits have recently been filed by employees claiming that their employers’ policies violate the Act.
Continue Reading Illinois limits conscience-based vaccine objections, while other states allow them

On May 31, 2021, the Illinois legislature passed SB 672, a bill that amends the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, the state’s non-compete statute. Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law. SB 672 would apply to restrictive covenant agreements entered into after January 1, 2022, and introduces a number of new restrictions on not only non-compete covenants, but also employee and customer non-solicitation covenants.

One of the most significant aspects of the bill is that it codifies the rule set forth in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 120327, which held that continued employment is not sufficient consideration for a restrictive covenant unless the employee remains employed for at least two years. Under SB 672, a restrictive covenant is supported by “adequate consideration” if (1) the employee worked for the employer for at least two years after signing a restrictive covenant agreement, or (2) the employer otherwise provided consideration adequate to support the restrictive covenant agreement, “which consideration can consist of a period of employment plus additional professional or financial benefits or merely professional or financial benefits adequate by themselves.” The bill does not define what type or amount of “professional or financial benefits” would be adequate.

Continue Reading Illinois’ new non-compete restrictions expected to become law

On July 14, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) released guidance for employers regarding the state’s new “adverse judgment or administrative ruling” reporting requirement.  Following amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act, employers with at least one adverse judgment or administrative ruling must disclose to the IDHR the total number of final, non-appealable judgments or final, non-appealable rulings against the employer in which there was a finding of sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination.

The guidance released this month resolves ambiguity by clarifying employers’ deadlines for reporting to the IDHR.  The deadline to report for calendar year 2019 is now October 31, 2020, and the reporting deadline will be July 1 for subsequent years.

The reporting requirement is not limited to employers with a physical presence in Illinois.  As the guidance reiterates, the reporting requirement applies to “any person employing one or more employees in Illinois.”
Continue Reading Illinois releases guidance regarding reporting rule for sexual harassment and discrimination judgments

Illinois officially has made it easier for certain workers who contract COVID-19 to claim it is an occupational disease for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation. On June 5, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law House Bill 2455, which amends the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310/et seq.) with respect to such claims.

In April 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission passed an emergency rule creating this same rebuttable presumption, but quickly withdrew the rule after it was challenged in court.

This amendment (codified as Public Act 0633) creates a rebuttable presumption that the exposure to and contraction of COVID-19 by a “COVID-19 first responder or front-line worker” arises out of and in the course of the employee’s employment, and is causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the employee’s employment.
Continue Reading It’s official: Illinois law presumes COVID-19 is a workplace injury for essential workers

In non-compete and trade secret litigation, key evidence of employee misconduct often comes to light through a forensic examination of the employee’s devices and accounts. These forensic reviews can identify suspicious activity, such as an employee forwarding information and documents to a personal email address, accessing large amounts of company files around the time of the employee’s resignation, or attaching flash drives and other external devices that may be used to misappropriate company files.

However, now that many companies have their employees working from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, employee actions that were typically considered “smoking guns” in the context of non-compete and trade secret litigation now could regularly be occurring in the work-from-home environment. It is not unusual to hear about employees working from home who have forwarded documents to their personal email accounts to print them from a home office printer, or who have used a personal or even a family member’s computer to work because they had technical difficulties with their company laptop. In other words, employees may now have more plausible excuses for actions that would normally be cause for concern, making it difficult for employers to evaluate whether company information is at risk.
Continue Reading Protecting confidential information in a work-from-home world

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has withdrawn an emergency rule it passed just weeks ago that would have made it easier for essential workers to claim they became sick with COVID-19 while on the job.

The withdrawal comes in the face of a Sangamon County Circuit Court decision granting an emergency request by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association to block the new rule. The court found that in passing the emergency rule, which created a rebuttable presumption that essential workers who become sick with COVID-19 contracted it in the course of their employment, the Commission exceeded its rulemaking authority under the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act and the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. Under these laws, the Commission only has the authority to create procedural rules. The court determined the Commission had improperly created “new substantive rights for employees and new liabilities for employers,” which is the province of the Illinois Legislature, not the Commission.
Continue Reading Illinois withdraws rebuttable presumption rule for COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims

On April 23, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced he would be extending the state stay-at-home order through May 30, 2020. The new extended order, which goes into effect on May 1, 2020, imposes a number of new restrictions, while lessening others.

New restrictions and requirements

  • Face covering required in public settings: Illinois residents over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face covering are required to wear face coverings when in public places where they are unable to maintain 6-foot distancing. Face coverings are also required in public indoor spaces such as stores.
  • Employers must provide employees with face coverings and PPE: Employers that are Essential Businesses and Operations and those engaged in Minimum Basic Operations, as those terms are defined in the order, must provide employees with face coverings and require employees to wear face coverings where maintaining a 6-foot distance is not possible at all times. Additionally, when the circumstances require, employers must provide employees with other personal protective equipment (PPE) in addition to face coverings.
  • Essential stores must provide employees with face coverings and follow additional distancing requirements: Consistent with the new required measure that employers provide face coverings/PPE to employees, retail stores designated as Essential Businesses and Operations under the executive order must provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain 6-foot social distancing at all times. They must also, to the greatest extent possible:
    • Limit occupancy at 50% of store capacity or at the occupancy limits set by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity;
    • Set up store aisles to be one-way where practicable and identify the one-way aisles with signage and/or floor markings;
    • Inform customers about social distancing requirements established by the extended order through signs, announcements, and advertisements; and
    • Discontinue the use of reusable bags.
  • Manufacturers must follow social distancing requirements and take other precautions: In addition to following the social distancing requirements set forth in the order, manufacturers that continue to operate must take other appropriate precautions, which may include:
    • Providing face coverings to employees who are unable to maintain 6-foot social distancing at all times;
    • Staggering shifts;
    • Reducing line speeds;
    • Operating only essential lines;
    • Ensuring all spaces where employees may gather allow for social distancing; and
    • Downsizing operations to the extent necessary to allow for social distancing and a safe workplace.
  • Work-from-home encouraged, poster required: All businesses must evaluate which employees are able to work from home, and are encouraged to implement work-from-home arrangements when possible. If employees must physically report to a work-site, employers must post the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Office of the Illinois Attorney General regarding workplace safety during the COVID-19 emergency.


Continue Reading Face coverings required in Illinois, and other updates to stay-at-home order

On April 28, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) released its model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training (download here), providing guidance for employers with employees operating in Illinois.

Under the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA), effective January 1, 2020, employees must receive training on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter. At minimum, the training must:

  • Explain what sexual harassment is (consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act definition).
  • Provide examples of prohibited conduct.
  • Summarize federal and state sexual harassment laws, including remedies available to victims.
  • Set out the employer’s responsibility to prevent, investigate, and correct sexual harassment.


Continue Reading Illinois releases model sexual harassment training

On April 23, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced he will be extending the state stay-at-home order through May 31, 2020. While the new executive order has not yet been published as of the date of this blog’s publication, a press release issued by the governor’s office previews modifications to the order, including:

  • A requirement

Earlier this month, the US Department of Labor (DOL) promulgated regulations to implement the recently enacted Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), both of which are part of the broader Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations address several key issues that were unclear in the original statutory language. Still, as explained below, several critical questions surrounding the EPSLA and EFMLEA remain unanswered.

Employer Coverage Issues under the FFCRA

Subject to certain eligibility requirements, the plain language of the FFCRA requires employers to furnish EPSLA and EFMLEA leave to their workers if the business has fewer than 500 employees in the United States. The regulations make clear, however, that the determination of whether an employer falls under this threshold must be made on a rolling basis at the time a particular employee requests leave (rather than, for instance, as of the FFCRA’s April 1 effective date).

This approach will require employers to take a “snapshot” of employee headcount at different intervals to assess the paid-time-off and leave entitlements of particular employees. And the regulations in fact even recognize that the approach may result in employees of the same entity having different paid-time-off and leave rights depending on when the employee requests leave. For example, a company with 499 or fewer employees in April may need to grant leave to employees, but if its payroll is over 500 in May, it can deny a request for FFCRA leave at that time.

The regulations also clarify that, for purposes of determining employee headcount under the FFCRA, employers must include all full-time and part-time employees, employees on leave, and day laborers supplied by a temporary agency. If the company is a “joint” or “integrated” employer under previous DOL standards, the employees of all entities must be counted together. The regulations also clarify that independent contractors do not count towards the 500-employee threshold (although it remains to be seen how this concept applies to workers who are excluded from the FFCRA calculation but are misclassified as independent contractors). See 28 C.F.R. § 826.40. The DOL further clarifies that employees who have been temporarily laid off or furloughed, and not subsequently reemployed, do not count toward the 500-employee threshold for determining employer eligibility under the FFCRA. See 29 C.F.R. § 826.40(a)(1)(iii).

Continue Reading DOL issues new guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)