File a Complaint for a Violation of the Paid Leave Ordinance
med-level alert: Cook County passes Paid Leave Ordinance, replaces Earned Sick Leave
low-level alert: Paid Leave Ordinance Enforcement Date - 2/1/2024
Effective December 31, 2023 with enforcement beginning February 1, 2024, the Commission investigates and, if warranted, adjudicates violations of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance. If you believe that your employer is violating the Paid Leave Ordinance, contact the Cook County Commission on Human Rights or file the complaint form available in the Downloads section. If you have questions about where you should file a complaint for violations of paid leave, please refer to the Paid Leave Jurisdictions Comparison Chart. This chart provides an overview of the paid leave ordinances at the City of Chicago, Cook County, and State of Illinois, and is also available in the Downloads section.
Potential violations include:
- Not providing you with the amount of Paid Leave that is required by the Ordinance;
- Not allowing you to use Paid Leave for a permitted purpose; or
- Underpaying you when you do use Paid Leave for a permitted purpose.
You may file a complaint using the Paid Leave Complaint Form, available in the following languages:
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - English
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - Spanish
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - Polish
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - Simplified Chinese
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - Arabic
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - Urdu
- Paid Leave Complaint Form - Filipino
Please note: enforcement of the Paid Leave Ordinance begins on February 1, 2024. You may prepare your own complaint or have an attorney prepare one for you.
A complaint must contain the following:
- A statement of the facts alleged to constitute a violation of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance;
- The date of the alleged violation;
- The city and state where the alleged discriminatory acts occurred;
- The basis of the discrimination (examples included below); and
- Signature of complainant or their attorney.
Your complaint must be filed with the Commission within 3 years of the date of the alleged violation. Please note that there is no charge or fee for filing a complaint.
Once you file a complaint with the Commission, the Commission may opt out to proceed with the complaint in its own name. The Commission will tend to do this with cases that are supported by strong evidence and where it appears that many employees may have suffered the same or similar injuries.
The Commission notifies the respondent about the complaint and requires the respondent to submit a response admitting or denying each allegation of the complaint. The complaint is then assigned to an investigator who conducts a neutral fact-finding investigation that may include interviewing the parties and other witnesses, obtaining and reviewing documents and other physical evidence and submitting written questionnaires to you, the respondent and other witnesses.
It is important that you cooperate with the investigator assigned to your matter and provide them with the information they request at the time they request it. Failure to cooperate is grounds for dismissal of your case. In addition, please do not provide printed copies of pleadings, if they have been provided to the Commission via email (so as to minimize duplication).
In addition, because investigators are working on a number of cases simultaneously, the Commission asks that once you have a complaint on file, that you make an appointment if you need to speak with your investigator about your case or want to provide them with additional information regarding the case. This ensures that each Commission complainant receives an investigator's undivided attention and reduces delays in the investigation process across the Commission's entire docket.
At the end of the neutral fact-finding investigation, the Commission determines on the basis of the evidence whether a violation of the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance has occurred.
Remedies and Relief
The Commission can order anyone who has violated the Cook County Paid Ordinance to pay lost wages, to provide compensatory paid time off; to reinstate a wrongfully terminated complainant; to give a required notice or make a required posting; and to cease and desist violating the Ordinance. The Commission may also levy fines of not less than $500.00 per violation.
Examples of Paid Leave Ordinance Violations
- Awarding employees fewer hours of Paid Leave than they should receive based on the number of hours they worked for the Employer in Cook County.
- Preventing employees from using Paid Leave for a purpose permitted by the Ordinance.
- Under-compensating employees during paid leave taken pursuant to the Ordinance.
- Failing to notify employees of their rights under the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance.
- Failing to post a notice advising of the right to Paid Leave under the Cook County Paid Leave Ordinance (in a conspicuous place at each facility where any Employee works that is located within the geographic boundaries of Cook County).
- Firing an employee who is considering filing an Paid Leave complaint or otherwise cooperating with a Commission investigation.