Springfield, IL - A Sangamon County judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking emergency changes made by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA) and Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) filed a lawsuit earlier this week after the Commission approved changes to the Workers' Compensation Act.
Under these changes, businesses must pay workers' compensation benefits to essential workers who test positive for COVID-19. The new rules create an automatic assumption that employees contract the virus in their workplace. However, more than two dozen business groups have joined IMA and IRMA in opposition of the changes.
“To be clear, this case is not about the wisdom of the substantive new law expressed by the Commission. This case is about the Commission far exceeding its rule-making authority," said attorney Scott Cruz. "The substantive law of Illinois, and the wisdom of implementing it, is for the legislature, after proper discourse, and not the whim of the Commission."
In addition, the Illinois AFL-CIO released a statement Wednesday, accusing the business community of opposing workers' interests. "It shouldn't shock anyone that the corporate community opposes a policy decision that helps workers. It's what happens in Springfield and Washington D.C.," said AFL-CIO Political Director Bill Looby. "This is why we have Workers' Compensation. Let's defend the workers standing between us and chaos."
Sources tell the Capitol Bureau state officials have until April 30 to respond to the temporary restraining order. The next hearing in Sangamon County Court will be May 4.