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Arlington Heights business law attorneysMost employers avoid firing an employee until it becomes clear that the employee cannot adequately perform their job, or worse, the employee is harming the business. It can be very challenging to have to let an employee go. You may know that your employee struggles with financial issues or has a family to support, so you try to give them as many chances as you can. Unfortunately, there is sometimes no way around it and you have to bite the bullet and terminate an employee.

When you fire an employee, it is critical that you do so in a way which protects you and your business legally. One way that business owners make themselves vulnerable to a wrongful termination lawsuit is through messy employee terminations.

Not Having the Termination Meeting in Person

If you are a nonconfrontational person, you may consider firing an employee via email or on the phone. However, many experts highly recommend avoiding this shortcut. While it may be uncomfortable, firing an employee in person is the most respectful way to handle the situation. Even more importantly, an in-person meeting gives you the opportunity to make your message clear and answer any questions the employee has about the termination. You should always make sure that a terminated employee knows exactly what happened and why he or she was let go. This can be nearly impossible to do via electronic communication.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyIf you are a business owner, you have probably already considered what you want the future of your business to look like. Most business owners plan to eventually pass down control of the business to a family member or other successor. Many business owners end up selling their companies entirely and walk away with a lucrative retirement nest-egg. Others pass on the business to a son or daughter. Whatever you see as the best possible future for your business, a skilled business law attorney can help make your dreams a reality.

Selecting a Business Successor

Many business owners hand-pick the individual who will eventually take over full control of their company. In fact, some business owners have the intention of passing the company down to a child or grandchild from the very start. In other instances, business owners find that one or more hired employees have promise as burgeoning executives and could possibly develop the expertise necessary to confirm the company’s continued success. Regardless of who becomes your company’s successor, it is crucial that he or she is capable of managing the challenges of running a business as well as challenges and obstacles specific to your industry.

In many circumstances, current clients can provide beneficial feedback regarding potential successor candidates. Your company’s existing customers should be comfortable with the eventual change in leadership. It can be difficult or nearly impossible to make a dramatic change in leadership without the support of your existing customers. It is also imperative that any prospective successor has clearly defined objectives and goals – both personally and professionally. A successor who is not sure what he or she wants may not be the best candidate for the position.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneysLarge, multinational companies seem to always be hiring. Proof of this can be seen in a typical Walmart where touchscreen application kiosks have replaced resumes and cover letters. Of course, a large company like Walmart may have a constant need for new employees, but it is also better insulated against hiring mistakes. As a small business owner, hiring the wrong person can be quite costly, and the process itself can consume valuable time and resources. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent expensive mistakes and to make the recruitment process more efficient.

Know the Landscape

You may think you know where to find the best candidates, but are you certain? Before posting a job opening, it is a good idea to do your homework on where to find qualified applicants. This could include various online job posting sites, as well as local colleges, universities, and trade schools. You may be surprised to learn that there are more qualified candidates looking for jobs than you initially thought.

Be Specific About the Job

When you post an opening, you should already know what that employee’s role in your company will be. Avoid the temptation to create a general listing. Instead, be specific about the duties of the position and how the new  employee will fit into your culture and business plan. Be sure to list required skills and expectations, as well as possible challenges. The best candidates will be motivated to take on these challenges, giving them an advantage over the rest of the applicants.

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Posted on in Business Law

Arlington Heights business law attorneyFor business owners, the holiday season can mean an influx of new customers as well as an increase in the strain put on employees. In order to help manage the increased demand during the holidays, many business owners choose to hire seasonal employees. There are many benefits to hiring temporary workers to help ease the load on full-time staff, however there are also many pitfalls to be wary of. If you are planning to hire seasonal employees for your business, keep the following things in mind.

Make Sure the Job Description is Detailed and Accurate

When writing job advertisements for seasonal positions it is especially important to be specific about what the job actually entails. In the job description, be clear about the nature of the job, the work environment, the work schedule, and what tasks employees will be expected to complete. Include a description of the skills or experience you desire in an ideal candidate. Include information about any incentives or bonuses for which seasonal employees may qualify.

Start Earlier Than You Think You Should

It may be too late to start the hiring process for the current holiday season, but experts say it is never too soon to start strategizing about hiring seasonal employees. Creating a seasonal hiring plan along with deadlines for hiring seasonal employees can help you stay on track. Start advertising holiday seasonal jobs at the end of summer in order to guarantee that you will have staff by crunch time.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyAs the owner of a small or medium-sized business, you probably do not have unlimited capital to do the things you would like to do. After paying your bills, honoring your contracts with suppliers, and covering payroll, you might not have a whole lot left at the end of each month. This is especially true of companies in their fledgling stages. Without extra money, you may find it difficult to think of ways to motivate your staff and to keep your employees working hard. While it is true that workers appreciate financial incentives like bonuses or gift cards, you may be surprised to learn that there are other effective strategies for motivating your staff that cost far less than you would expect.

Be a Leader, Not Just a Boss

Have you have ever been to a restaurant that was obviously short-staffed? It might have been obvious by the frazzled look on your server’s face, not to mention longer-than-usual wait times and other indications. Can you remember what you saw the manager or owner doing? If he or she was cleaning off tables, carrying trays, or mopping up spills in the bathroom, there is a good chance you were seeing a solid leader, not merely the boss. A “boss” might have been content to give directions and tell others how to handle the problem while the “leader” was not afraid to get dirty and help.

The same idea could be applied to your business, and the way in which you lead matters. When you treat your staff as if they are stupid and replaceable, you will probably see that type of work from them. If you assume that your employees are intelligent, focused, and capable of doing their jobs—to the point that you are willing to dig in alongside them and help out—your attitude is likely to spread. Productivity will probably increase as well.

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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 attorneysYou have probably heard the term “non-disclosure agreement” more often than normal in the last few months. Recently, President Trump has been accused of having a relationship with an adult film star and using a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to prevent her from discussing it with the press. There has always been a bit of confusion in the general population about exactly what the purpose of an NDA is and when to use this legal device. Non-disclosure agreements, also known as also known as confidentiality agreements, confidential disclosure agreements, proprietary information agreements, or secrecy agreements, can be a valuable tool for business owners.

An Unfair Reputation for a Valuable Legal Tool

An NDA is a legal contract that can exist between two or more parties that guides how confidential information should be kept private. For example, if two parties wish to discuss sensitive material without the threat of that information leaking to a third party, they can use an NDA to establish confidentiality rules. Doctor-patient confidentiality, attorney-client privilege, and bank–client confidentiality are forms of non-disclosure agreements. While often receiving bad press, an NDA by no means indicates that any illegal or unethical behavior is being protected.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneysWhen you own a business with one or two employees, you probably know your employees well and trust them to generally do what is best for your business. As your business grows and more employees are needed, it becomes increasingly important for you to develop a list of rules, regulations, and policies for your workers. Not only should your employees know your expectations regarding performance and behavior but creating a codified list can help protect you from certain liabilities. One of the most common ways to publish such rules and policies is in an employee handbook.

In developing an employee handbook, experts recommend that you:

Be reasonable with your rules.

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Illinois small business attorneysAny small business owner knows that it takes a substantial amount of money to start a small business. It is not uncommon for business owners to take out loans or acquire other debt while they are in the process of starting their business. If you are a small business owner, you are probably worried about debt frequently. Unfortunately, going into debt is often an unavoidable part of having a business, but there are some ways to manage this debt so it is less overwhelming.

1. Keep Track of Your Expenses, Revenue, and Credit Report

Before anyone can tackle their debt, either personal or business-related, they must know their current financial status. Although record-keeping is tedious and time consuming, it is critical that businesses keep track of their expenses and revenue. Additionally, experts suggest keeping a close eye on your personal and business credit scores. A credit report from one of the three main credit bureaus will show you what debt you have and to whom. It can also give you a chance to dispute paid or inaccurate debts which may be negatively affecting your credit score.

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Illinois business law attorneyWith the winter holidays fast approaching, many business owners have started thinking about gifts for their employees. If you were to ask your team what they wanted from you as a holiday bonus, most of them would probably say cash. Unfortunately, not every business owner is in a financial position to offer cash bonuses—especially those running newer businesses or non-profits. As it turns out, studies suggest that cash rewards often do very little to improve worker morale and performance. Non-monetary gifts seem to have a larger and long-lasting impact on employee satisfaction.

If you are struggling with ideas on how to show your employees you appreciate them but you cannot afford lavish gifts, you may want to consider:

  • Closing on slow days around the holidays: If you run a retail business, you probably cannot afford to be closed in the days leading up to Christmas. In other industries, however, closing for a day or two could be a good way to allow your team to rest and relax without worrying about vacation time. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are often viable options, with some business even shutting down for the entire last week of December;
  • Giving extra paid time off: Even if you do not close, you could probably find ways to allow your employees to take an extra day or two off. During the holiday season, even an extra half-day off could be helpful in finishing shopping and preparing for guests;
  • Finding tangible gifts: One of the appeals to giving cash is that it is one-size-fits-all, but other gifts may also have fairly wide appeal. Wellness items like activity trackers or a gym bag could be appropriate, and items such as inexpensive personalized coffee mugs could show that you appreciate your team;
  • Work-related ideas: Some business owners use the holidays as a good time to encourage personal and professional development. You could give your employees the chance to attend an industry-related seminar, listen to a speaker, or even take a training course that may help them achieve their long-term career goals; and
  • Remembering the family: It is easy to think of your employees as individuals, but many business owners tend to forget their workers’ families. You may think about giving rewards that include spouses, children, and other family members such as movie passes, event tickets, or gift baskets sent to the home.

Of course, any holiday gift or bonus will lose much of its impact if you do not remember to express your gratitude and appreciation directly to your team. They have helped you get where you are and deserve recognition for their efforts.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneySmall and medium-sized businesses represent the backbone of the American economy. Such companies, in turn, rely on various types of business contracts to keep them running properly. Contracts are used to formalize purchase agreements, loans, employer-employee relationships, and a wide variety of other applications.

When you sign a contract, you do so with several expectations. First, you expect that you will comply with the terms and provisions of the agreement. Just as importantly, you expect the other party to do the same. If he or she fails to do so, you may be able to file legal action for breach of contract. Assuming your case is valid and the court rules in your favor, there are several remedies that may be applied to address your concerns.

Money Damages and Restitution

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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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