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Chicago landlords have extra hurdles in front of them if they want to evict tenants between now and September 25 as stipulated by the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance that passed City Council, and all Illinois landlords face a different terrain under Rules 120 and 139 promulgated by the Illinois Supreme Court, both of which occurred last month. Chicago Ordinance Continue reading
An emergency rule promulgated in April by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission gave certain classes of “essential” workers the ability to claim COVID-19 as an occupational disease vis-à-vis the ability to collect workers compensation.  This is a change that every Illinois business should be aware of. The commission withdrew the rule after a court challenge, but last month Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation amending the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310, codified as Public Act 0633) to say that a “COVID-19 first responder or front-line worker” has the rebuttable presumption of having contracted the disease due to hazards…
Evictions Due to Pandemic Issues The moratorium is scheduled to end on July 31, 2020, it may very well be extended again. Once the moratorium period ends, Illinois landlords can file eviction suits due to the non-payment of rent. NOTICE TO LANDLORDS:  Chicago residential tenants, who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, can respond to their landlords within five days of receiving an eviction notice under a Chicago Ordinance.  The notice must be in writing, whether in the form of a letter, email or text message. The notice can be as simple as, “I have been…
On June 24, Virginia became the first state in the country to implement workplace health and safety rules to protect workers from coronavirus infections. Could Illinois be next?   Whatever happens, these actions should serve as an example of what every  business should do. Virginia’s health and safety board agreed to create finalized rules after the state’s Department of Labor and Industry drafted an emergency temporary standard in late May. The office of Governor Ralph Northam said the idea arose because the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has received more than 4,000 complaints related to coronavirus but only issued…
Small Businesses Reopening As of today June 26, Illinois has reached Stage 4 of coronavirus reopening, which allows essentially all types of businesses to reopen provided they observe public health safety guidance and capacity limits, with no more than 50 people allowed in one place. What does this mean for businesses, and how can they protect themselves—and their employees and customers—medically, financially and legally? Continue reading
How concerned should small businesses be about wrongful discharge lawsuits from plaintiffs terminated after alleging publicly that their employer did not follow health and safety guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19? The first clues may emerge from one of the first employment lawsuits related to the pandemic, filed in late May in Dallas County, Iowa. The plaintiff is a former county jail employee who called a hotline set up by the Department of Corrections after a co-worker who tested positive for COVID-19 was allowed to resume work due to being asymptomatic. The sheriff’s office ultimately decided that the infected…
For the first time to our knowledge a judge has ordered rent relief for a Chicago restaurant.   The bankruptcy judge ruled that the “Act of God” clause in the lease gives the restaurant rent relief when it was forced to closed during the the COVID-19 mandatory closings. CoronaVirus FAQs The force majeure clause in the lease of Italian restaurant Giglio’s State Street Tavern eliminated the restaurant’s obligation to pay full rent during the time when the City and State implemented the “stay-at-home order” to deal with the pandemic.   (For more info on the force majeure contact clause, see my other Blog
Employment Issues in the Pandemic Employees who decline to show up to a physical work location based on a city, state or doctor’s coronavirus-related health order are protected from employer retaliation under a newly passed City of Chicago ordinance. Chicago-based businesses, defined as those with physical facilities in the city, or subject to its licensing requirements, must not take adverse actions against any employee following the  COVID-19 dictates of the Chicago mayor, city Department of Public Health, governor of Illinois, or their own treating healthcare provider. Continue reading
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order on April 1 designed to protect health care providers from litigation arising out of COVID-19 cases. How does it do so, and how well would it work in practice if a lawsuit were filed?  The Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act notes that statewide public health emergencies require “an enormous response” from different levels of governments working alongside private and public health care providers. As such, the order attempts to “promote the public health, safety and welfare of all citizens by broadly protecting the health care facilities and health care professionals in…
Business owners are anxious to reopen their doors and revive their sales.  But there are concerns that the proper precautions be taken to protect their employees and customers, at a time when no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 appears imminent. As governors and mayors begin to ease restrictions on businesses, previously shuttered retailers, restaurants and others have another concern that could hold them back from reopening just as surely: whether and to what extent they can be held legally liable for employees or customers who contract coronavirus. Continue reading
Cyber Security Issues while working remotely. Does your cyber liability insurance cover data breaches that occur while employees are working at home, using their personal devices such as tablets and laptops? There’s no time like the present to look into this issue, with most employees telecommuting and hackers perhaps sensing new opportunities to do what they do—and in fact, cyber intrusions have been on the upswing in recent weeks. Continue reading
Small and medium-sized businesses with up to 500 employees are required to provide employees with up to 14 weeks of leave, most of which must be paid, for circumstances related to COVID-19, under a pair of temporary pieces of legislation that passed Congress last month. Starting April 2 and through December 31, 2020, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires that employers provide up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave—which has been required to be offered, but not required to be paid, since the 1993 passage of the original legislation. And also from April 2 through…
Chicago area business owners are facing a number of challenges and the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the viability of their business.   Here are some of the more frequently questions asked by business owners. Do I have to close my business? As of March 30 over half of Americans were under “stay at home” orders in 24 states and the District of Columbia in addition to several other major cities and local areas.  Four states have also ordered all nonessential businesses to close without issuing a formal “stay at home” order.  Which businesses can and cannot stay open varies depending on…
As Chicago area business litigation lawyers this is a question we frequently are asked. Electronic Signatures are Enforceable under Illinois Laws.  E-Signatures are permissible and valid in Illinois under the Illinois Electronic Commerce Security Act (the ECSA). Under the ECSA e-signatures can be used for all contracts except for real estate title transfers where the document has to be recorded.    The key point is to make sure that the contract has a provision that allows e-signatures. For more information, check out our the web page of our Chicago Business Litigation law firm on the subject of e-signatures.…
What to do when your business is forced to close due to the CoronaVirus? Does your business insurance policy cover the lost business due to the pandemic?  Most businesses carry commercial property insurance, which often includes business income coverage provisions. Recent events have caused our clients to raise questions as to what to do when their business is forced to close.  There are some options to business owners. COVID-19 – the coronoavirus – has put a halt on business as we know it.  The ordered closures of restaurants and bars across the country, and the official ban on public gatherings, have…