Illinois’ One Day Rest in Seven Act provides that employees are to be provided 24 hours of rest for every 7 days worked. ODRISA, 820 ILCS 140/1. In the case at bar, an employer subject to a collective bargaining agreement with an arbitration clause decided to prohibit employees from working 7 consecutive days without a 24 hour rest period. The employer believed this was required by the ODRISA despite having previously allowed the employees to do so and receive overtime.
The employees filed grievances which were unable to be resolved and the Illinois Department of Labor declined an offer to issue an opinion letter on the issue. The grievances went to arbitration and the arbitrator upheld the grievances finding that ODRISA was preempted by the CBA’s overtime provisions and that a binding past practice had developed between the parties, which allowed the employees to volunteer to work 7 consecutive days without a 24 hour period of rest.
Northern District of Illinois District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan found that the employer waived their public policy argument, and further found that nothing in the ODRISA prohibited an employee from waiving the 24 hour rest period and consenting to work otherwise. Judge Der-Yeghiayan referenced a 2013 advisory opinion of the IDOL General Counsel advocating the same position as the employees. Furthermore, the ODRISA contained permissive language that the employer “allow” employees the 24 hour rest period. 820 ILCS 140/2. Nothing in the ODRISA prohibits an employee from voluntarily choosing to forgo the 24 hour rest period. In fact, the Act and its regulations allow the IDOL to issue permits to employees authorizing them to disregard the 24 hour rest period. The court also noted that the arbitrator created a waiver form that the employer could use going forward.
As noted above, this matter came before the court following arbitration of grievances pursuant to a CBA. The arbitrator found the CBA overtime rules preempted the ODRISA. The district court found that the employer waived its public policy arguments, a limited exception to arbitration ruling validity, and even had it not, there was no clear public policy mandate prohibiting employees from waiving the Act’s provisions.
Can we expect the same result in a non-CBA setting? The public policy rationale applies with equal force whether a CBA is involved or not. Thus, one would expect the same result regardless of the setting. Of course, this is a district court opinion and other district judges can choose to follow it or diverge from it at their discretion. You should continue to monitor rulings on this issue until the 7th Circuit, or the Illinois Supreme Court resolves the issue.