Franchisor Liability in the Face of Misrepresentation
When considering franchise opportunities, due diligence is absolutely necessary prior to purchasing any franchise in order to protect yourself and your investment. What are your options when a franchisor misrepresents the estimated costs to operate a franchise in a disclosure document? Specific contract language for franchise liability will help to protect franchisees from purposeful fraud or misunderstandings.
Non-Compete Agreements and Non-Management Employees
A common question we are asked is whether employers may require non-management personnel to sign a non-compete agreement. The answer is yes, but there are limitations of which employers should be aware. To be enforceable in the State of Illinois, the agreement must (1) have adequate consideration, (2) be reasonably necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interest, (3) not impose undue hardship on the employee, and (4) not be injurious to the public. Courts will generally determine the enforceability of a non-compete agreement based on the totality of these factors. As of January 2017, however, employers are prohibited from requiring any low-wage employees under the Illinois Freedom to Work Act to sign non-competes. The Act effectively protects employees earning less than $13.00 per hour or minimum wage, whichever is greater. Read more…
Gender Identity and the Workplace
Gender identity is a protected class against discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2266 The law protects employees against discrimination in all terms and conditions of employment, including hiring, selection, promotion, transfer, pay, tenure, discharge, and discipline. To ensure compliance, employers are encouraged to participate in diversity training, revise workplace policies, and to promote inclusivity.
Employers should also note that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) https://www.eeoc.gov/ prohibits gender identity discrimination under Title VII. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm EEOC has found that examples of unlawful discrimination include: failure to hire because a person is transgender, firing an employee based on a gender transition, intentional misuse of a transgender employee’s new name and pronoun, and denying an employee equal restroom access. In interpreting the Illinois Human Rights Act, state courts look to federal law.
Paid Sick Leave Update
There are several new state, municipal and county paid sick leave laws in Illinois that will affect employers’ Paid Time Off policies and benefits. Some or all may apply to your business depending on where you do business or where you have employees working. The following is a brief description of the main points of each new law.
Illinois HB 6162 Employee Sick Leave Act:
Took effect January 1, 2017.
- The Act does not specifically define Employer, so it is assumed that this Act applies to all Illinois Employers.
- Employees may use their personal sick leave time for absences related to the illness, injury or medical appointments for “immediate family” (child, stepchild, spouse, sibling, parent and spouse’s parents, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent).
- The time to be used is the employee’s personal sick leave benefits, not plan benefits, such as short- or long-term disability benefits.
- The amount of time to be allowed for immediate family versus personal sick time is not defined, but should be “for reasonable periods of time”.
Misconduct Expanded in Recent Update of Unemployment Insurance Act
On December 4, 2015, House Bill 1285 was signed into law, codifying how the industry defined employee misconduct for purposes of unemployment insurance claims. With the new legislation, the question becomes whether the clarified misconduct violations will automatically bar a former employee from obtaining unemployment benefits.
Prior to House Bill 1285, an employee was ineligible for unemployment benefits if he or she committed egregious acts such as committing a theft or felony, for work-related misconduct, out of work because of a labor dispute, or if the employee quit voluntarily without good cause. Illinois Appellate Courts have held that a policy did not need to be written or even articulated in circumstances where the behavior violates a policy which is self-evident, such as stealing, Ray v. IDES, 244 Ill. App. 3d 233 (1st Dist. 1993) or fighting, Bandemer v. IDES, 204 Ill. App. 3d 192 (1st Dist. 1990). However, in situations where the misconduct was not specifically addressed in employer policies, proof of warnings to the misconduct that violated the policy was required. See Zuaznabar v. Bd. of Review, 257 Ill. App. 3d 354, 358 (1st Dist. 1993) Read more…
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Unfortunately it sometimes takes a tragedy such as the recent shooting of Nadia Ezaldein at Nordstrom store by her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Dee, to make us as business owners think about what we could have done to prevent this from happening in our place of business. Fortunately, the State of Illinois has 2 little known laws in place that can offer both employees and employers some added protection from domestic violence and abuse in the workplace. These are the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) and the Workplace Violence Prevention Act.
A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO BIRTH CONTROL VS. RELIGIOUS RIGHTS
On June 30th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of three family-owned businesses, with the majority of the court saying that businesses can refuse to pay for certain forms of contraception they find “morally repugnant.” At issue are four contraceptives known as abortifacients which are contraceptives that prevent ovum implantation or cause a miscarriage shortly after becoming pregnant.
In writing the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito noted that the Obama White House already provided an opt-out for nonprofit religious corporations by allowing an outside insurance company to pay for birth control and felt this should also apply to for-profit employers. It was suggested by the court that the Government could assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers’ religious objections.
Medical Marijuana in Illinois
On January 1, 2014, it became legal for patients with diseases or conditions currently specified by the Act to use marijuana for medical purposes. Under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, these patients must be registered with the Illinois Department of Public Health and may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from a licensed dispensary. Employers may not discriminate against individuals based on their status as a registered patient under the Act. Read more…
Firearm Concealed Carry Act – How can you as an Employer and Business protect yourself, your employees and customers?
The year 2014 brings many changes that affect not only the workplace but how you conduct business in Illinois. On July 9th, 2013, Illinois became the last state to allow individuals to carry concealed weapons. Although it became law in 2013, we are just now feeling the effects of its enactment. Over 23,000 people in Illinois have applied for permits, with nearly one quarter of those applicants living in Cook County, while Will and Du Page Counties follow close behind with the most number of applicants. Soon, they will receive their permits and begin to exercise their rights under the law. Read more…
IL Law Requires Non-Union Contractors in non-construction related contracts to Post Job Openings on State Website
Effective July 23rd, 2013, Public Act 98-107 requires all individuals or companies that have contracts with State Agencies, Universities and Community Colleges to post certain Employment vacancies on the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s www.IllinoisJobLink.com system or provide a link to its online employment vacancies site that is accessible through www.IllinoisJobLink.com. Read more…