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Effective April 16, 2020, an emergency amendment to Illinois’ workers’ compensation rules will make it easier for workers at essential businesses to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19 related injuries. Specifically, the emergency amendment creates a rebuttable presumption that exposure of a “COVID-19 First Responder or Front Line Worker” to the virus arises out of and in the course of, and is causally connected to, their employment.

The emergency amendment broadly covers any individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered as first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, corrections officers, and the crucial personnel identified under Section 1, Parts 7-12 of the Illinois March 20, 2020 stay-at-home executive order. The reference to Parts 7-12 of the stay-at-home order means employees who work for the following types of businesses will be considered “COVID-19 First Responders or Front Line Workers”:
Continue Reading Illinois makes workers’ compensation more accessible for COVID-19 essential workers

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently affirmed the reinstatement of an employee’s complaint alleging disability discrimination based on his registered medical marijuana user status, reasoning that the employee was entitled to disability protections despite violating the employer’s drug policies.  This case, as well as recent amendments to the state’s medical marijuana law, indicate that employers in New Jersey should engage in the interactive process when considering accommodation requests from registered users and should not take any adverse action against a registered user simply because of their status. 


Continue Reading New Jersey’s wild ride – The status of cannabis user employment protections and how we got here

On March 23, 2020, in Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American Owned Media, the Supreme Court resolved a circuit split on whether discrimination claims brought under section 1981 require “but-for” causation or whether they can be analyzed under Title VII’s “motivating factor” test. The Court confirmed “but-for” causation is required.

The plaintiff in the case, Entertainment Studios Network (ESN), is an African American-owned television network operator that sought to have Comcast carry its channels. Comcast refused, citing reasons such as lack of programming demand, bandwidth constraints, and a preference for other types of programming that ESN does not offer. ESN and the National Association of African American-Owned Media sued, alleging Comcast violated 42 U.S.C. section 1981, which guarantees “[a]ll persons…the same right…to make and enforce contracts…as is enjoyed by white citizens.”

On appeal from the district court’s dismissal of ESN’s complaint for failure to state a claim, the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding ESN was only required to plead that race played “some role” in Comcast’s decision-making process.
Continue Reading Supreme Court confirms race discrimination claims under section 1981 require “but-for” causation

On March 20, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order directing all Illinois residents to “stay at home.”  The order goes into effect on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 5 p.m. (CT), and lasts through April 7, 2020.  Illinois now joins the ranks of California and New York, which have issued similar “stay at home” orders.

Under the order, all “non-essential” businesses must stop operating except with respect to minimum basic operations or operations consisting of individuals working from home.  “Minimum basic operations” consist of the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.  To the extent employees must still work, businesses must ensure they comply with social distancing requirements:

  • Designate six-foot distances with signage, tape, or by other means, to ensure employees and customers waiting in line maintain appropriate distances from one another;
  • Make hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;
  • Implement separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and
  • Post online whether a facility is open, and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.


Continue Reading Illinois governor issues “stay at home” order in response to COVID-19