Questions about COVID-19 and our return to the workplace still remain unanswered for many employees. Cramer Law will ask some of these questions and provide answers according to current laws and regulations.
Please review this series of blogs posts designed to help employers and employees know what their rights are. Please contact us at Cramer Law if you feel your rights have been violated or if you need further information about any of these issues.
Specific Illinois and Chicago Provisions
Illinois’ Hospital Report Card Act
Prohibits hospitals from retaliating against employees for reporting “any activity, policy or practice of a hospital that . . . the employee reasonably believes poses a risk to health, safety, or welfare of a patient or the public.” 210 ILCS 86/35.
Common Law Retaliatory Discharge Claims in Illinois
Illinois has long recognized a common law cause of action for retaliatory discharge in violation of public policy. A refusal to engage in activity that allegedly violated safety-related protocols has been held to constitute such a claim. See Wheeler v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 108 Ill.2d 502 (1985).
The Chicago Anti-Retaliation Ordinance
Under Chicago’s Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, passed May 20, 2020, employers cannot demote or terminate a covered employee for obeying an order issued by the Mayor, the Governor, or the Illinois Department of Public Health to:
(1) Stay at home to minimize the transmission of COVID-19;
(2) Remain at home while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or sick with COVID-19;
(3) Obey a quarantine order issued to the Covered Employee;
(4) Obey an isolation order issued to the Covered Employee; and
(5) Obey an order issued by the Commissioner of Health regarding duties of hospitals and other congregate facilities.
The Ordinance also provides that Covered Employees cannot be terminated or demoted for obeying the order of a treating healthcare provider in case of reasons (2), (3) and (4) above.
In addition, an employer may not demote or terminate a Covered Employee for caring for an individual subject to sections (1), (2) and (3) above.
“Covered Employee” are considered employees who perform at least two hours of work (including compensable travel time) for an employer within a two-week period while physically present within the City of Chicago. Of course, there are some exceptions. The law does not apply to government employees other than those working for the City and its sister agencies.
The Covered Employee may recover in a civil action reinstatement of the Covered Employee to either the same position held before the retaliatory action or to an equivalent position, damages equal to three times the full amount of wages that would have been owed had the retaliatory action not taken place, as well as any other actual damages directly caused by the retaliatory action, together with costs and such reasonable attorney’s fees as a court allows.