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Chicago Wants To Fine Employers Who Retaliate Against Their Workers For Taking Time Off To Get Vaccinated

"No worker should have to choose between keeping their job and getting the COVID-19 vaccine," the mayor said.

A woman is vaccinated at Rush University System for Health
Rush University System for Health

CHICAGO — Employers who retaliate against their workers for taking time off to get vaccinated could face up to $5,000 fines under a new piece of city legislation.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Wednesday introduced an ordinance to fine employers $1,000-$5,000 anytime they fire, discipline or take “any adverse action” against their employees for taking time off to get vaccinated.

Lightfoot’s office said the ordinance is part of a broader effort to protect Chicago’s workers as the city heads into Phase 1C of the vaccination rollout, which begins March 29 and includes essential workers and anyone 16 and older with a qualifying medical condition.

“Our essential workers have kept this city running throughout the pandemic, and as we near the end of the crisis, no worker should have to choose between keeping their job and getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

City officials did not provide specific examples or any information about how widespread an issue this is.

Also under the ordinance, employers would be required to let workers use paid sick time or “other accrued time available” to get vaccinated. Employers would also be required to compensate workers while they’re getting vaccinated, up to two hours per dose.

The measure is an expansion of the Anti-Retaliation Ordinance, which passed City Council in May 2020. The ordinance is designed to protect Chicago worker’s during the pandemic and the vaccination rollout.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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