BOMA Lawsuit Challenges Chicago's Fair Workweek Ordinance

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The Building Owners & Managers Association of Chicago ("BOMA") recently filed a federal lawsuit fighting Chicago's broad labor ordinance that limits some employers' ability to set and change workers' schedules.

BOMA claims that the Fair Workweek Ordinance, a new Chicago ordinance that mandates employers give qualifying employees early notice of their schedules or face penalties is unconstitutional. According to BOMA, the Ordinance will have the effect of forcing employers to agree to overly generous collective bargaining agreements. BOMA's suit demands that building owners and other industries covered by collective bargaining agreements be exempted from the Ordinance. BOMA claims that the Ordinance violates federal labor law in that it inconsistently applies to only certain businesses and attempts to regulate conduct that the federal government intentionally leaves unregulated.

The Ordinance, which takes effect July 1, 2020, applies to employees making less than $26 an hour and salaried employees making $50,000 or less. It also applies to restaurants and hospitals with more than 250 workers, as well as to companies with more than 100 workers in sectors like building services, hotels, manufacturing, retail and warehouse services. It is recognized as one of the broadest laws in the country addressing work schedules.

Since BOMA members frequently employ union workers, the teeth of its suit is the claim that the Ordinance will put employers in an unfair position when negotiating future bargaining agreements. According to BOMA, if employers want unions to agree to a waiver to the Fair Workweek Ordinance, BOMA argues, such employers will have to make other unnecessarily generous concessions to obtain such waivers.

Many business and industry groups were initially opposed to the Ordinance, but much of that opposition changed after the City made certain concessions. Currently, there is no indication that the City plans to make any additional changes to the Ordinance any time soon.

If you need assistance assessing how this Ordinance will affect your company and how to best comply with its requirements, please contact Rachel Yarch at (312) 840-7029 / Ryarch@burkelaw.com or Chris Kentra at (312) 840-7112 / Ckentra@burkelaw.com.

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