City of Chicago employees required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — City of Chicago employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 15, the mayor’s office announced.

Mayor Lightfoot announced earlier this week that employees would be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine but details had not yet been released until Wednesday in a press release.

In the release, the mayor’s office defines “full vaccinated” as means two weeks past the second dose of a two-dose mRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna) or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Employees will be asked to submit their proof of vaccination via a secure, online COVID-19 vaccine portal, the statement said.

The mandate applies to all City employees and volunteers.

“Employees can apply for medical or religious exemption from this policy. Such requests will be reviewed by the Department of Human Resources on a case-by-case basis,” the statement said. 

With city labor unions opposed to the mandate, a legal battle is brewing. Kimberly Ross, an attorney at Ford Harrison, said the law is on the side of employers.

“The EEOC has spoken on this and they have said that vaccine mandate are legal as long as employers, which would include the City of Chicago, give consideration for employers who request exemptions for legitimate medical reasons or have deeply-held religious beliefs,” Ross said.

Although the Chicago Federation of Labor is in talks with the city about vaccine policy, Wednesday their president came out against the mandate.

“We believe in the benefits of vaccination to help protect workers and residents, but we do not believe punitive mandates are the right path to significantly increase vaccine uptake. In fact, we believe this announcement may harden opposition to the vaccine instead of protecting the workers who have sacrificed so much over the past 18 months,” Labor President Bob Reiter said.

As soon as Mayor Lightfoot floated the idea of a mandate, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police stated opposition on their Facebook Page.

It’s not just rank and file officers opposed to the mandate. Sergeants and captains do not back the order.

Earlier this month, Gov. Pritzker required state employees who work in congregate settings to be vaccinated by Oct. 4. He has not yet expanded the mandate to all state workers, but he working on it.

AFSCME, the largest state employee’s union, opposes a vaccine mandate. 

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