Governor J.B. Pritzker

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

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

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