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Arlington Heights business law attorneyNo matter how hard you work to hire quality employees, there will come a time that you will need to terminate one. It could be a matter of performance. It could be a matter of attendance, or it could be related to theft or breach of contract. Whatever the situation, it is critical that you, as an employer, know how to protect yourself from wrongful termination lawsuits and discrimination lawsuits. A skilled employment law attorney can offer you some key tips on legally terminating an employee in the state of Illinois.

Understanding At-Will Employment

As most states do, Illinois lets business owners employ “at will.” This means that you can terminate an employee for almost any reason, or even no reason at all, as long as employment contracts and other documentation do not contradict your right to employ at will. (If you have questions about this, you should contact an experienced business attorney for sound legal advice.)

When Firing an Employee Can Result in Legal Issues

While you do have the right to fire an employee at will, there are some restrictions. You cannot fire someone for a disability or because of his or her race, age, sexual identity, gender, sexual orientation, or a number of other protected charateristics. Whistleblowers who file a complaint for safety issues, discrimination, and/or harassment in the workplace are also protected. Further, you cannot terminate an employee for taking family, medical or military leave, nor can you fire them for serving jury duty. If you terminate an employee under these conditions, you could land yourself in some serious legal trouble.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyWhile most businesses have anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies in place, many still face harassment or discrimination lawsuits because they fail to enforce those policies. More often than not, these are for repeat incidents that have, for one reason or another, gone unresolved. However, a recent report from the Bureau of National Affairs suggests that there are more single incident cases today than there were just mere years ago, and that can mean serious trouble for employers who fall short in providing a safe workplace environment for all.

The Increase in Single Incident Cases

As the notion and importance of equality becomes more widespread, and as judges and juries become more sympathetic to the effects of workplace harassment, more and more are ruling “extremely serious” or “severe” single incidents as viable unlawful harassment cases. Under federal law, this places the employer on the hook for liability, and they may become responsible for damages considered due.

Even cases that are ultimately dismissed have their negative effects on a business. Because they often remain as pending cases longer than the used to, harassment and discrimination lawsuits can drastically impact on employee morale and productivity, and may even cause long-lasting damage to a company’s reputation. Litigation costs associated with discrimination or harassment claims may also prove to be costly, especially if the claim survives past summary judgement. All in all, it is a situation that every employer should try and avoid, if and whenever possible.

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Illinois business law attorneyAs any business owner can attest, owning and operating a small business takes hard work. It is important for a business owner to always be coming up with new and innovative ways to promote the company’s success. If you are a small business owner, you should be trying to think of ways to help your business grow. You should be looking for new opportunities to expand your client base and drive up your profits. While there is not a one-size-fits-all plan for growing a small business, there a few general guidelines that could help you achieve your goals

Play to Your Strengths

Are customers drawn to your business for a particular product or service? Are there patterns regarding your most loyal clients? It may be tempting to try exciting new ways to generate revenue, but it is very important to keep your primary focus on your basic strengths—or “bread-and-butter” if you will. For example, if you run a coffee shop and customers love your custom roasts, you may wish to look for new ways to market your products with strong sales as opposed to eliminating your own brands in favor of new products.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneysThe lack of gender diversity in business is not a new issue, nor is the lack of diversity in the boardroom, and it is difficult exactly why. A Pew Research Center survey indicates that most Americans do believe that women are equally qualified as corporate and political leaders, but four out of 10 respondents also feel that women have to do more to prove themselves than their male counterparts. After a recent study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, companies may want to consider reframing how they see gender equality in the workplace.

Increased Female Management Representation and Profit Margins

After examining nearly 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries, researchers found that around 40 percent of all companies had no female board members, more than 50 percent had no female executives, and fewer than five percent had a female CEO. Statistics in the United States were even more concerning, with only 12 percent of all board seats and 16 percent of executive seats going to female employees. Yet, interestingly enough, a deeper look indicated that increased female leadership may produce bigger profit margins.

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Illinois business law attorneysIf you own a company that relies on a team of employees to serve your customers and achieve your goals, recruitment and hiring are very important to your business. You need the best possible team that you can assemble, and it can be challenging to make good hiring decisions after spending just a few minutes with each candidate.

The interview is a critical part of the hiring process, and a good interviewer can learn a great deal about a prospect in a very short amount of time. It is reasonable, of course, to ask a candidate how he or she will approach the job and about the qualifications he or she brings to the table. There are, however, some questions you never ask and topics that must be avoided so that you do not put your company at risk for a claim of employment discrimination. Such topics include:

  • Age;
  • Race or ethnicity;
  • Sex, gender, or gender identity;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Marital or family status, including pregnancy; and
  • Disability.

State and federal laws prohibit employers from making hiring decisions because of certain protected characteristics. Bringing up any these subjects creates the impression that the candidate’s answers will affect your hiring decision.

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Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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