The Illinois House of Representatives recently introduced House Bill 5769, which would create the Illinois Personal Protective Equipment Responsibility Act (the “Act”).  The Act would require “essential employers” to provide personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to both employees and independent contractors.  The Act defines an “essential employer” as an employer engaged in an “essential business” as defined by a disaster proclamation issued pursuant to Illinois’s Emergency Management Act or any executive order issued in furtherance thereof.

At a minimum, essential employers would be required to provide face coverings and require that such coverings be worn “when maintaining a 6-foot social distance is not possible at all times.”  Id. at § 10(a).  Additional forms of PPE, including, but not limited to, gloves, safety glasses, safety face shields, shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, coveralls, vests, and full body suits, must be provided “when work circumstances require.”  H.B. 5769 §§ 5, 10(a), 101st Gen. Assemb. (2020). If signed into law, the Act’s requirements would become effective immediately, and would last until the expiration of the disaster proclamation or executive order(s) at issue.  Id. at §§ 10(e), 99.

Both “owners” and “operators” would be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act, and both could be subject to joint and several liability for violations.  Id. at §§ 10(a), 15, 20.  “Owners” are defined as any “person or entity with legal ownership of the essential employer,” and the Act does not distinguish between majority owners or other forms shareholder arrangements.  Id. at § 5.   “Operators” are defined as any “person or entity that has operational or managerial control of the essential employer,” including “any officer, member, or partner” of the controlling person or entity.  Id. at § 5.

Aggrieved workers may recover trebled damages sustained as a result of a violation, as well as punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.  The Act would also authorize workers to seek injunctive relief, and would allow courts to “exercise all powers necessary” to remedy violations, including revoking or suspending an employer’s business license.

The Act is one to watch amongst of a series of employment-law related measures Illinois legislators have recently introduced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These measures include:  a bill co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans which would delay the minimum wage increase currently set for July 1, 2020 until January 1, 2021 (S.B. 3988, introduced May 19, 2020); a bill providing employers tax credits for hiring Illinois residents to work in the fields of technology, health care, or manufacturing if those residents were unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (S.B. 3992, introduced May 20, 2020); and bills introduced by Republican legislators precluding unemployment benefits from being chargeable to employers where unemployment is directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19 (S.B. 3986, introduced May 19, 2020) and limiting the civil liability of employers for acts that result in the transmission of COVID-19 (S.B. 3989, introduced May 19, 2020).

*    *    *

Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Steven J. Pearlman Steven J. Pearlman

Steven J. Pearlman is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group. Steven’s practice focuses on defending complex employment litigation involving claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; wage-and-hour laws; breach of employment contract…

Steven J. Pearlman is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group. Steven’s practice focuses on defending complex employment litigation involving claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; wage-and-hour laws; breach of employment contract; and restrictive covenants (e.g., non-competition agreements). Steven is also at the forefront of defending whistleblower retaliation claims, and routinely conducts investigations arising from whistleblower reports. He has successfully tried cases to verdict in Illinois, Florida and California, and defended what is reported to be the largest Illinois-only class action in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He has also testified in defense of his investigations in federal court.

Photo of Edward Young Edward Young

Edward “Eddie” C. Young is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the following Firm practice groups: Restrictive Covenants & Trade Secrets; Discrimination, Harassment & Title VII; and Whistleblowing & Retaliation.

Eddie represents employers in all…

Edward “Eddie” C. Young is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the following Firm practice groups: Restrictive Covenants & Trade Secrets; Discrimination, Harassment & Title VII; and Whistleblowing & Retaliation.

Eddie represents employers in all aspects of employment law, with a concentration on litigating complex employment disputes of all types before federal and state courts throughout the country, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, state and local human rights commissions and arbitral tribunals (e.g., FINRA and AAA).  In particular, Eddie has successfully litigated employment-related disputes alleging breach of non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets, discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation, wage and hour violations, including employee misclassification claims, breach of contract, defamation, fraud and other business-related torts.  Eddie has obtained a world-wide injunction to enforce a client’s non-competition restriction on a former executive, successfully defended a client through summary judgment and appeal against retaliation claims brought by a former General Counsel, represented Fortune 500 companies in defense of high-profile harassment claims associated with the #metoo movement, and provided representation to several professional sports leagues.  He also has significant appellate experience, including successfully representing clients before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First, Second and Seventh Circuits, as well as before the United States Supreme Court.  Eddie often draws on his litigation experience to help clients avoid the courtroom by effectuating positive change in the workplace through impactful training, counseling and developing robust employment policies.

Working in a wide range of industries, Eddie represented clients in food services, financial services, medical devices, telecommunications, higher education, sports, retail, real estate and others.

Eddie has been recognized as “One to Watch” by Best Lawyers in America since 2021 and as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers since 2017. He also regularly advises clients, writes and speaks on cutting-edge legal issues, including the use of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, and legal issues arising from the collection and use of employee biometric information.

Eddie maintains an active pro bono practice, including on-going representation of a certified class of approximately 65,000 visually disabled Chicagoans in litigation challenging the City’s lack of accessible pedestrian crosswalks.  Eddie is also a member of the Firm’s Pro-Bono Committee and is a three-time recipient of the Firm’s “Golden Gavel” award for his significant pro bono contributions.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Eddie was a cum laude graduate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He also obtained a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business. He began his practice at a national management-side employment law firm, and has also worked in the corporate human resources department of a national tax consulting firm and as a Fellow with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.