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Arlington Heights business law attorneyA few weeks ago, a post on this blog explored the challenges in making the decision to terminate an employee who is no longer a good fit for your company. That post highlighted the importance of careful record keeping and rational decision-making so that you could protect yourself in the event of possible legal action. The second and final stage of the termination process, however, is the termination itself, and letting an employee go must be done in such a way that both the rights of the employee and your company are protected.

Meet Face to Face

While it may be uncomfortable for you, your employee deserves the courtesy of a face-to-face meeting in most cases. Try to avoid terminating an employee over the phone, through text message, or even via a letter. There may be some exceptions, such as worker with habitual attendance problems, but an in-person meeting is appropriate far more often than not.

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Illinois business attorneysWhen you employ a staff to help you meet the needs of your customers, sooner or later you will have an employee who fails to live up to your expectations. Perhaps he or she has problems with being on time, complying with your company’s dress code, or is simply not productive enough to warrant what you are paying him or her. But, how can you be sure that firing the employee will not blow up in your face, so to speak? There are some steps you can take to help protect yourself and your company from lawsuits and frivolous accusations when you decide to terminate an employee.

The Two Phases

In the movies and on TV, it not uncommon to see a boss fire an employee on the spot for a particularly egregious mistake or outburst. While an immediate firing may be warranted on occasion, most employee terminations occur after an extended decision-making process. Firing an employee, usually, can be broken down into two separate stages—the decision and the termination—and both must be handled properly.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyMost people agree that taking an occasional vacation from work is good for your stress levels and mental health. Hardworking employees need time off to recharge once in a while. However, a new study shows that employees in at least two major cities are working more than ever without taking paid time off. In fact, approximately 64 percent of employees in the area said they do not choose to use their paid time off. This leaves a whopping 12.8 million unused days.

Employees Avoid Taking Time Off for Several Reasons

This information comes from a study conducted by Project Time Off, an organization that promotes leisure, travel, and relaxation. Researchers found that San Francisco and Oakland are the second most overworked cities in the country. Only Washington D.C employees work more days a year. The study surveyed over 7,000 working Americans about their work habits and vacation days.

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Illinois employment law attorneyWhen you rely on a staff to help promote your company’s interests, it is important to be aware of your employees’ needs. Unhappy, overworked employees can quickly lead to decreased morale, reduced productivity, and lower profitability for your business. Aside from the numbers, it is also important to look after your employees as people—men and women who have committed themselves to helping you reach your professional goals.

Over the last couple weeks, the internet has been abuzz with commentary regarding a Michigan woman’s decision to take a mental health day away from work. More accurately, the talk has been focused on her manager’s positive response and the realization that more companies should be as supportive of their workers.

Sick Days for Mental Health

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Posted on in Business Law

non-compete clauses, low-wage employee, non-compete agreements, nondisclosure agreement, Arlington Heights business law attorneysOn August 19, 2016, Illinois state Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law referred to as the Illinois Freedom to Work Act. The law took effect on January 1, 2017—a law which will notably impact the private business sector.

Is a Non-Compete Clause Enforceable?

It is common for private business owners to require their employees sign and adhere to non-compete agreements. However, the Illinois Freedom to Work Act specifically prohibits a business owner from entering into a contract that denies a low-wage employee the ability to find employment elsewhere that competes with his or her current company.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_employee-handbook-Arlington-Heights-.jpgEmployee handbooks are like welcome packages for your employees. They outline what you expect from your employees and communicate what your employees can expect from you. Yet it is important to recognize the potential implications of a poorly written employee handbook. The following explains these risks, and provides you with information on how to avoid them.

Employee Handbook Basics

At minimum, you want your employee handbook to make clear that your company complies with the anti-discrimination and harassment laws, and that you are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In conjunction with this, you should document your expectations on ethics and conduct. This can give you the chance to reiterate your stance on harassment and discrimination. However, you may also need to outline issues that may be regulated (i.e. food safety, environmental regulations, etc.).

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Arlington Heights business law attorneys, Americans with Disabilities ActIn the United States, all businesses with 15 or more employees must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects workers with disabilities from discrimination within the workplace. Any failure to do so can result in hefty fines and penalties, and may even result in a discrimination lawsuit against your business. The following can help you avoid such consequences by providing you with information on how to ensure your policies are in line with the ADA requirements.

Protection Against Discrimination 

Under the ADA, individuals with disabilities and their family members are protected from discrimination in hiring, termination, and opportunities for advancement. This means you cannot deny employment to someone based on a disability, or the disability of a loved one. It also means you cannot terminate someone because he or she, or a loved one, has a disability. Individuals with disabilities and employees who have a loved one with a disability must also receive the same consideration when it comes to advancements and promotions within the company. 

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Lombard business law attorneys, new businessStarting your own business means making a lot of tough and important choices. One of your first choices will be deciding how to structure your business—meaning, you need to determine your business’s entity. Interestingly enough, this is also one of the most critical decisions you make; how you and the business will be taxed, your personal liability, and even the type and amount of paperwork you will be required to do will all be based upon your company’s structure. How do you decide? The following can help.

Sole Proprietorships

A sole proprietorship is one of the most common business structures, partly because it is the least complex to start, form, and run. There are some pretty major limitations and pitfalls to this structure, however. For example, a sole proprietorship can only have one owner. As the business owner, you also assume responsibility for all financial obligations and taxation for the business. If you make a mistake, you really do not have anything to fall back on. If the business goes under, you may be required to file for bankruptcy to avoid complete financial devastation.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneys, overtime lawFederal law recently placed a new law on overtime pay, and it has a lot of businesses in Illinois scrambling to figure out how they will accommodate. For many, the issue relates to their salaried employees, such as managers and supervisors. The big concern is that employees may attempt to rack up hours to get extra pay—extra pay that some small business owners may not be able to afford. Learn more about this new law, how it may apply to your business, and what you can do to try and mitigate the impact.

Understanding the New Law

Passed under the Obama administration, the new law applies to nearly all salaried employees making less than $47,476 per year. Their employers must now offer overtime pay (time-and-a-half) for any work hours exceeding the 40 hour full-time hour limit. Some 4.2 million workers are expected to be eligible.

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harassment claim, Arlington Heights business law attorneysFederal law prohibits discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. If it does occur, then employees can file a complaint internally, at their company, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or with the courts to pursue a lawsuit. Consider the following information regarding how you may be able to help protect your business against a harassment or discrimination claim as well as key details on where to find help.

When a Complaint is Filed Internally

Complaints filed internally may seem like an annoyance, but they can be a blessing in disguise. They give you a chance to handle matters quickly, efficiently, and with as little fanfare as possible. However, you must handle the matter seriously. You cannot conduct a sloppy investigation. You must make sound decisions, and you should treat the victim with empathy. An experienced attorney can guide and advise you in this process.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneys, non-compete employee contractsAs the world changed its calendars, Illinois enacted several new laws. Some apply to business owners and their employees. Among them is the change to the non-compete agreements. Now limited in their use, failure to adhere to the new guidelines could place your business at risk for litigation. Learn what these new limitations are, how they might apply to your business, and what you can do to ensure you are compliant.

Non-competes and Low-Wage Employees

Last year, a sandwich restaurant food chain made headlines because of their non-compete agreements. Their employees, who made only minimum wage, were restricted from working at any other establishment that made its primary income from sandwiches. Signed upon their hire, these agreements lasted for at least two years after an employee’s quit or termination date. Ultimately, a lawsuit was brought against the company and they had to pay out a settlement, which is allegedly going to create outreach and education programs to improve better practices by employers throughout the state.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneys, terminating an employeeThere are several aspects to running or managing a business. The act of terminating an employee is one of more difficult and unpleasant. It is also a situation that could potentially put your business at risk for litigation. If you have started a business and need to terminate a problematic employee, the following information can help you stay within the legal guidelines. It can also ensure you know when and where you can find help, should you need it.

Do You Have the Legal Right to Terminate?

Illinois is an “at-will” employment state, which means you do not need to have a reason or cause for terminating an employee. Yet there are some legal pitfalls that you, as an employer, must be aware of. You cannot terminate an employee for reasons that relate to their age, race, religion, or gender. Employers are also prohibited from terminating an employee for taking family leave, military leave, or time off for jury duty. Whistleblowers are also protected by law.

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Cook County business law attorneys, small businesses, financial ruinSmall businesses are, in many ways, the backbone of American society. They represent a dream, a way of life, and take us back to a time when things were simpler, more personal. Small businesses were also key in helping the country find its way out of the Great Recession, and they provide jobs to 35 percent of America’s workforce. Sadly, many small businesses are also at serious risk for financial ruin because they are—like most working Americans —living month-to-month. If you are a small business owner, learn how you may be able to protect yourself from costly legal pitfalls.

Is Your Small Business at Risk? 

While there are some small businesses that have an effective safety net, most are at serious risk for financial problems. In fact, a recent analysis determined that, on average, small businesses have a daily cash outflow of $374 and an inflow of $381, leaving them with just a $7 difference between what they are making and spending each day. Furthermore, the average small business “buffer” reserve only covers about 27 days of closure. Some have as few as just 13 days.

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