Today was a great day on the Illinois workers’ compensation front as it relates to employee protections and the COVID19 Disaster. Thanks to Patrick McDonough’s many letters to the Governor Pritzker of Illinois, those who are exposed to and catch Covid19 in the course and performance of their work assignments will be able to make a claim for workers’ compensation as a result of recently amended IWCC rules. Illinois is traditionally a liberal state that favors the employee, so it will likely be the employer’s responsibility to prove the transmission DID NOT occur and work. This is a significant change. This will put the onus on the employer to prove that safety controls were in place including adequate PPE for all employees related to associated risk was provided not only now but at the onset of the public health Disaster. As this relates to the Department of Water Management, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of PPE that was stored in the lower level of the Jardine Plant is missing. Many of the PPE was stolen and handed to private contractors working at the various Water Treatment plants. Also important, not only are traditional first responders covered by the new regulations but also essential employees including those with Water Management who have been required to come to work despite the risks, and assure the operability of the critical infrastructure to keep the water supply and distribution operations. Most do not know the impact suffered by the pumping Stations (like Mayfair pumping station)covered up by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Commissioner Randy Conner. The Department of Water Management was professionally run not long ago, by certified safety supervisor that disappeared and former Alderman John Pope attempted to replace him. No longer will Mayor Lightfoot be able to play on her trained lawyer skills that allege the employee was sick and should have stayed home but instead came to work and exposed others to COVID19. She will now need to hire attorneys to litigate each claim in the traditionally liberal Workers’ Compensation Commission and prove the employee was not exposed at work as a result of exposure. That is great news that will force safety measures to be put in place to provide safeguards for all employees. This is a massive amount of money for Alderman Burke’s chosen law firms like Hennessey and Roach. that made massive political contributions to Burke when he ran the Committee on Finance.
Also, today it was sadly reported a highly regarded long term DWM employee succumbed to the dreadful COVID19 virus. He was reputedly infected while in the course and performance of his work activities at the water department and it is likely a wrongful death claim will be filed against the city as a result of this senseless death.
As a tribute to the DWM employee who passed away Randy Conner and Mayor Lightfoot reputedly authorized that all crews and foreman from Division Street South across the city to rally at 74th and Stoney Island to pay respect to the departed employee. It is rumored that Mayor Lightfoot had this idea –based on the rally in Lansing Michigan in which protestors from across that state in rebellion of new stay at home restrictions issued by the Democratic Governor in that state rallied at the capital in their automobiles causing gridlock. In the Water Departments case, heavy equipment that costs hundreds of dollars an hour to operate ( the cost of the equipment, fuel, and the union scale operator) convened in mass to pay tribute and was utilized in theory to maintain the social distancing as required by Public Health ordinance. Many exited the machines and vehicles and appeared to be in violation of the social distancing rules and regulations being touted repeatedly by the Mayor. Hopefully, no other DWM employees were exposed during the mass gathering, but should they be exposed they will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim as the gathering was allowed to take place by DWM supervision and it took place during work hours for those on the clock-which would be all employees operating city equipment. The State and special police had investigators and inspectors documenting the personnel and equipment on site.
It is rumored the Department of Water Management is finally ordering PPE for the critical employees required to work. As noted in a previous article this should have been done prior to the onset of the COVI-19 Disaster. As claims are litigated the discovery phase of litigation including Depositions of Public Health officials currently and formerly employed by the City will ALLEGEDLY shed light on many failings by the Current Mayor and Former Executive Employed at the OEMC as well as prior administrations. Workers’ Compensation attorneys will be remarkably busy in the coming months. If you are an employee of the City of Chicago and you or your family have contacted COVID-19, I will make sure you and your family are well represented. I am also working with the former City of Chicago employees to make sure those with-out water will be taken care of. Mr. Frank Coconate and I will deliver needed supplies to any City of Chicago employee affected by COVID-19. We will not allow your family to starve while the Mayor of Chicago and her evil lawyers, stop, deny, or delay your workers’ compensation benefits. Please contact us if an employee and his/her family are hungry.