IL WC Update: Temporary Restraining Order Sought Regarding New COVID-19 Rules

Earlier today, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction in Circuit Court in Sangamon County against the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and Chairman M. Brennan seeking that the Court enjoin the Commission from invoking the Amendments in favor of or against any person or entity.

As has been widely reported, on April 13, 2020 the Commission, pursuant to its Emergency Rule Making powers, edited the Rules of Practice concerning trials before the IWCC to create a rebuttable presumption that any “First Responder or Front Line Worker” who is diagnosed with COVID-19 was exposed to that disease by virtue of his or her employment. Employees covered by the rule include the following: any individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, correction officers, and crucial personnel identified in the March 20, 2020 Executive Order from Governor Pritzker. The executive order includes a lengthy list of industries/trade/work where the employees are deemed crucial personnel.

In support of their motion, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Illinois Retail Merchants Association claimed that “the Amendments mandate sweeping substantive legal reform, grant new rights to a broad class of employees, and infringe on protectable interests of their employers by declaring COVID-19 a prima facie Occupational Disease under the IWCA and Illinois Workers’ Occupational Disease Act (“IODA”), and by affording employees a burden-shifting rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 was in fact contracted in the workplace.”

Echoing I&F’s position on this situation posted last week, the Plaintiffs further claimed that in enacting the Amendments, the Commission has exceeded its authority under IWCA and IODA in violation of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. 

This situation is obviously developing quickly and has a massive impact on Illinois employers. Please check back in often for updated news and feel free to contact I&F’s attorneys with any questions.

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