Alds. Sophia King (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) voted for ordinances Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced to protect workers impacted by the pandemic and to extend expired city licenses for businesses into the summer at the May 20 City Council meeting.
Under the COVID-19 Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, employers cannot terminate or demote employees for staying home from work due to a public health order. It covers those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, those working at non-essential businesses and those who are quarantining or isolating due to exposure to someone with COVID-19.
People who have been fired or demoted can submit a complaint to the Office of Labor Standards in the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Services. Businesses that break the law in food faith, believing that they were following public health guidelines, would not be subject to $1,000 daily fines should they stop violating the ordinance within 30 days.
Another ordinance extends the city license of any retailer, daycare, hotel, restaurant, bar and public vehicle that expired on or after March 15 through July 30, unless the public health commissioner determines the COVID-19 threat has diminished before June 30.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have worked to ensure we fulfill our fundamental obligation to support and provide much-needed relief to Chicago’s businesses so that they can continue to hire and build wealth in our neighborhoods when this pandemic is over,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Through this ordinance, we are easing the financial burdens our businesses are facing so that we can get them on the road to a strong and speedy recovery.”
The ordinance delayed until Jan. 1, 2021, the ability of workers to file lawsuits if their schedules are changed without 10 days' notice.
While Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who owns the Ann Sather’s restaurant chain, complained that the increase in the city’s minimum wage to $14 an hour — a move championed by Ald. King — would hurt employers and workers amid the pandemic, the raise will take place on July 1.
King’s office had no comment.
“This meeting needs to happen twice a month instead of once,” Taylor said when reached for comment about the meeting. “It’s a lot more information to take in.”