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Arlington Heights business law attorneysOne of the best ways to legally protect your business as well as yourself as a business owner is to have a comprehensive employee handbook. Developing a list of employee policies, procedures, rules, and regulations should be at the top of your priorities if you own a business and have not already done so. An employee handbook allows your employees to know exactly what you expect of them and also helps protect you from liabilities. If you are in the process of drafting a handbook or list of company rules, experts suggest the following tips.

Avoid Adding Superfluous or Unfounded Rules

Employees are like anyone else. Understanding why a rule exists provides motivation to follow the rule. If you are going to include a certain rule in your handbook, make sure you have a good reason for doing so. Including rules with no real purpose other than for “discipline” in your handbook can break down employee morale. Rules which are not really necessary or do not have a defined purpose are rarely enforced. This can diminish your authority and credibility as an employer and business owner.

Keep It Concise and Easily Understandable

Make sure your employee handbook does not look more like an employment contract than a reference. Using overly wordy language and legalese will not encourage anyone to read your handbook. Employees need to know what is expected of them as well as what behavior is not acceptable at work in language they can understand. Handbooks, unlike other business documents, can be written in a casual, conversational tone. Referring to yourself and management as “we,” can add a friendly attitude to the handbook and help your employees feel included. Make sure your handbook also promotes the work perks and benefits employees can enjoy.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneySinger Mariah Carey has recently made headlines after lawsuits were filed by both the pop diva and her former assistant. A representative for Carey says the 48-year-old singer is suing her former personal assistant for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, invasion of privacy, and extortion. Carey claims that the assistant secretly filmed Carey without her knowledge and then threatened to sell the footage if Carey ever fired her. Carey alleges that when confronted about the gross invasion of privacy, her assistant attempted to blackmail her for $8 million and threatened to release further personal information about Carey. Carey is seeking $3 million in damages.

Carey’s Assistant Says She Was Forced to Work in an Abusive and Offensive Environment

In response to Carey’s breach of contract and extortion lawsuit, Carey’s former assistant filed her own lawsuit. The list of claims made by the ex-employee against the singer are extensive and include: breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, failure to pay earned wages upon termination, rescission of contract, breach of oral contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, wrongful termination, and retaliation. The former personal assistant claims that during her tenure as Carey’s personal assistant, she was forced to endure near constant derogatory and offensive behavior and remarks as well as physical abuse by Carey’s manager at the time. The former assistant claims that much of the hostile behavior toward her was centered around her Armenian heritage and appearance. The assistant further claims that Carey knew about her manager’s abusive and belittling behavior toward her and chose not to stop it.

Former Employee Is Seeking Financial Compensation for Lost Wages and Emotional Distress

Mariah Carey’s former assistant says the ordeal has brought her a great deal of embarrassment and emotional distress. She is seeking compensatory damages for lost wages, future earnings, and unpaid overtime. She is also seeking compensation for physical injury and severe emotional distress. In addition to these damages, the former assistant is asking for punitive damages as well as compensation for legal fees. Carey vehemently denied the claims.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyIf you were asked to name the most valuable and influential companies on earth—without looking at the title of this post—what brands would come to mind? Walmart would probably among them, as would Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and the petroleum giant Exxon Mobile. All three of these companies are at or near the top of the Fortune 500, but according to market value rankings, four others are even more valuable.

Earlier this week, Amazon saw its stock price rise by about 3.5 percent, closing on Monday, January 7, at $1,629.51 per share. The company’s total market value is now estimated to be about $797 billion, making it the world’s most valuable brand—just edging out Microsoft’s value of $783 billion. Alphabet, the parent company of Google currently sits in third place with a $748 billion market value. Apple, which is usually in the running for the top spot, lost value last week after reports of lagging iPhone sales, bringing the company’s market value down to about $702 billion.

From Humble Beginnings to Top of the Heap

It is hard to believe that Amazon has only existed as a company for 24 years. In 1994, founder Jeff Bezos created Amazon as an online bookseller and launched the site from his garage in November of 1995. The Seattle-based company quickly diversified, however, adding music, movies, video games, electronics, and clothes. Within a year, Amazon boasted about 180,000 customer accounts, and by October 1997, that number topped one million. In 1998, the company was generating revenues in excess of $600 million.

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Posted on in Business Law

Arlington Heights business law attorneysAs anyone who owns a car, truck, boat, camper, or any other type of vehicle will tell you, regular maintenance is crucial in keeping the vehicle running properly. You need to change the oil, inspect the brakes, replace fuel filters, and complete a variety of other checks every so often. This idea is so well-known that those who do not get maintenance work done understand that there are risks involved with skipping maintenance for too long. In many ways, the same is true for your business. Regular reviews and tune-ups are not only important, they are vital to your company’s long-term success.

Figure Out the Timing

Depending on your chosen industry, your company’s business cycle might be linked to the calendar year and it might not be. Therefore, your first step in the review process is to determine the best time to examine your performance and future needs. If the beginning of the calendar year makes the most sense, schedule your tune-up for the first quarter so that you can be as productive as possible in the months that follow. If your busiest season coincides with the winter holidays, however, spring or summer may be a better option for your review.

Choosing the right time for a tune-up is important so that you are in a position to handle issues as they arise. It is not a good idea to be starting new projects or trying out new ideas when your company is at its busiest. Use slower times of the year to give your staff the ability to adjust to changes before they get busy again.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyAs a business owner, you might want to show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work with a special bonus. Of course, as much as you would like to shower your employees with cash rewards during the holidays, most businesses cannot afford expensive holiday bonuses. Many startups do not post a profit until the third year they are in business, and even established businesses can find themselves short on holiday funds. A 2017 Bank of America survey found that about 35% of small businesses give employees a cash bonus during the winter holidays. Nearly a quarter of businesses surveyed said they planned to give their employees no holiday bonus at all. If you are trying to think of a way to motivate and reward your employees this holiday season, consider some alternative holiday bonus ideas.

Studies Show Cash Is Not Always the Best Gift

You may be surprised to learn that giving employees a cash bonus does not necessarily result in improved employee morale or performance. Studies show that non-monetary rewards often have a greater positive influence on employee satisfaction. Some business owners give their employees extra days off during the holiday season instead of cash bonuses. Others close their businesses entirely on major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day. Businesses like retail stores that cannot afford to close their doors may find that personalized gifts may be a more feasible representation of gratitude to employees. Considering employees’ families in holiday perks-related decisions is another way to help employees feel valued.

Sincere Praise May be the Best Gift of All

Simply praising your employees for their hard work may be one of the best holiday gifts that you could give. Research regarding employee productivity and happiness has consistently shown that employees who are praised for a job well done work harder and enjoy their work more than those who receive no recognition. Including a personalized message with your holiday bonus or other perk can help show employees that they matter to you not just as employees but as individuals. Alternatively, a public display of gratitude in the form of an awards ceremony or dinner can be a great way to recognize and reward employees.

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