Cook County Jail officers want to be paid for after-work time spent sanitizing over COVID-19

They want to be paid for up to 30 minutes they spend after each shift sanitizing themselves and their personal protective equipment, saying that’s now an ‘expected job function.’

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Detainees at the Cook County Jail.

Detainees at the Cook County Jail.

Provided

Cook County sheriff’s correctional officers are suing the county and Sheriff Tom Dart to be paid for the time they spend cleaning up after their shifts at the Cook County Jail because of the coronavirus.

The 11 officers filed suit Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, asking for at least one work week of compensation for “sanitation activities” since March 9 — the date Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The officers want to be paid for up to 30 minutes they spend after every shift sanitizing themselves and their personal protective equipment. The cleanups are an “expected job function,” according to the lawsuit.

They’re paid $36 to $38 an hour, and some have been working double shifts during the pandemic, according to the suit.

The officers’ labor contract with the sheriff’s office is “silent” about whether they should get paid for cleaning up after work, according to the lawsuit, which cites a 1956 Supreme Court decision that found that a chemical-plant worker should be compensated for the time he spent removing his protective clothing.

A sheriff’s correctional officer and six detainees at the Cook County Jail have died of COVID-19 related illnesses.

Sheriff’s officials are awaiting test results on whether a second officer’s death also was from the disease. And hundreds of sheriff’s employees and detainees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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