On April 21, 2021, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance (the “Ordinance”), here, prohibiting Chicago employers from: (i) retaliating against workers who receive the COVID-19 vaccine during working hours; and (ii) requiring that workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine only during non-working hours. The Ordinance takes effect immediately.

The Ordinance applies to all employers who “engage the service of at least one individual for payment.”  In addition, the Ordinance defines “worker” to mean “an individual that performs work for an employer, including as an employee or as an independent contractor.”

Under the Ordinance, an employer cannot require that its workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine during non-working hours. If a worker elects to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the employer must allow the worker to use any available paid sick leave or paid time off.

In addition, if the employer has implemented a mandatory vaccine policy under which workers are required to receive a  COVID-19 vaccine, the employer must compensate the worker for time spent receiving the vaccine, up to four hours per dose, if the dose is administered during working hours. Such compensation must be at the worker’s normal rate of pay.  An employer that requires workers to receive a vaccination also cannot require that the worker use paid sick leave or paid time off for the time taken to receive the vaccine.

The Ordinance has teeth: a worker subjected to an adverse employment action for taking time out of the work day to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can pursue a private right of action and recover: (i) reinstatement; (ii) damages equal to three times the full amount of wages that would have been owed had the retaliatory action not taken place; (iii) any other actual damages directly caused by the retaliatory action; and (iv) costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. The Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection or the Director of Labor Standards can also pursue violations of the Ordinance in an administrative hearing or in a court of law. A violation of the Ordinance will also result in a fine between $1,000 and $5,000.

We will continue to monitor and report developments relating to this Ordinance. In the meantime, employers should review their policies and practices to ensure that they are in compliance.

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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 an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation and the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Groups.

Eddie’s practice focuses on defending companies in all aspects of employment litigation, including…

Edward “Eddie” C. Young is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation and the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Groups.

Eddie’s practice focuses on defending companies in all aspects of employment litigation, including claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, breach of restrictive covenants (e.g., noncompetition and nonsolicitation), and whistleblower retaliation. He has handled such cases before state and federal courts throughout the country, as well as before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the American Arbitration Association and the Department of Labor.

Photo of Dakota D. Treece Dakota D. Treece

Dakota Treece is an associate in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation and Arbitration Group.