The City of Chicago recently enacted the Chicago COVID-19 Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance.

The Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance allows workers in Chicago – including independent contractors -- to get vaccinated during a scheduled “shift,” requires pay for hours taken to get vaccinated (if an employer mandates the vaccine), and prohibits retaliation for getting vaccinated during a scheduled shift.

Specifically, the Chicago Vaccine Anti-Retaliation Ordinance provides as follows:

  1. An employer may not require that a worker only be vaccinated during “non-shift” hours or retaliate against a worker for taking time during a “shift” to get vaccinated. A “shift” is defined as “the consecutive hours an Employer schedules a Worker to work, including Employer-approved meal periods and rest periods.”
  2. An employer must allow a worker to use accrued paid sick leave or other paid time off to get vaccinated.
  3. If an employer requires a worker to get vaccinated, the employer must compensate the worker for the time, up to four hours per dose, if the vaccine appointment is during a “shift,” and the employer cannot require the worker to use accrued paid sick leave or paid time off to cover the hours missed to get vaccinated.

The Ordinance provides that Employers found to have violated this Ordinance will be liable for “a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000,” but the Ordinance provides no further detail regarding how any potential fine is to be calculated. Additionally, workers subject to a violation of this Ordinance may recover in a civil action reinstatement 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 and attorney’s fees.

The bottom line is this:  Chicago employers should review their company policies to ensure that they do not run afoul of these newly enacted worker protections.

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