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When is Overtime Pay Required?

Web Admin - Thursday, May 28, 2015

overtime pay in Illinois, Palatine employment lawyerOvertime pay is an important, but often complicated, issue that employers and employees sometimes have to resolve. For employees, receiving overtime pay is compensation for being asked to work a significant number of hours. However, employers often attempt to find ways, either by legal or, in extreme cases, illegal means, to avoid having to pay overtime compensation.

General Overtime Information

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois law, an employee is entitled to overtime pay when he or she works more than 40 hours in a single workweek. The workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (seven consecutive 24-hour periods) and is defined by the employer. The workweek does not need to coincide with the calendar week. Instead, the workweek can begin on any day and at any time of the day. While the employer can make the workweek whatever he or she wishes, it is not permissible to average the number of hours worked over a period of two or more weeks.

Overtime pay is paid at a minimum of 150 percent of the employee’s hourly work rate (known as “time-and-a-half”) for the number of hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA does not place a maximum number of hours that an employee over the age of 16 may work in a workweek. Further, there is no provision for overtime pay for work performed on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays, unless work performed on those days results in exceeding the 40-hour rule. Generally, overtime pay is paid on the regular payday for the period in which the wages were earned.

The FLSA provides for several exemptions from the requirement of overtime pay. Exempt from overtime pay are executives, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees who earn over $455 per week. Determining whether an employee fits under one of these categories can be complex and requires examination of the specific work the employee performs. Under Illinois law, other types of workers are also exempt, including, but not limited to:

  1. - Any salesman or mechanic primarily engaged in the selling or servicing of automobiles, trucks or farm implements;
  2. - Agricultural workers; and
  3. - A crew member of any uninspected towing vessel operating in any navigable waters in or along the boundaries of Illinois.

An employee who believes that he or she is entitled to overtime pay can file a lawsuit claiming monetary damages or that requests an injunction that orders the employer to pay the overtime wages. If the employee’s lawsuit is successful, he or she may receive back-pay, as well as liquidated damages in an amount equal to the back-pay.

Help with Employment Issues

For more information or if you believe you have been improperly denied overtime pay, you should speak with an experienced Illinois employment law attorney with experience in employment law and overtime compensation. Our firm represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including areas such as Arlington Heights, Palatine and Crystal Lake. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

The Family Medical Leave Act

Web Admin - Thursday, May 21, 2015

FMLA, Illinois, Crystal Lake employment lawyerFor various medical-related reasons, it may be necessary for a person to temporarily stop working. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides individuals with a means for doing this without running the risk of losing their job. It is important for both employers and employees to understand this special area of employment law.

What Does the FMLA Provide?

The FMLA allows workers to take an unpaid leave of absence from work for specified medical and family purposes with the continuation of insurance coverage according to the same provisions as if the employee did not take the leave of absence. Under the FMLA, an employer must return the employee to the same job or one that is nearly identical or equivalent. A nearly identical job includes the following:

  1. - Identical pay and benefits;
  2. - The same shift or general work schedule;
  3. - A geographically proximate worksite; and
  4. - The same or substantially similar duties, responsibilities, and status.

An eligible employee is eligible for 12 workweeks of leave in a one-year period for:

  1. - Childbirth and to provide for the child within twelve months of the birth;
  2. - The care of a child adopted or placed under foster care within one year of the placement of the child with the employee;
  3. - The care for a direct family member who has a serious health condition;
  4. - A health condition that prohibits the worker from being able to perform essential job functions; or
  5. - Any demand due to the fact that the employee’s direct family member is a covered military member on covered active duty, which is defined as duty during the deployment to a foreign country.

Alternatively, an eligible employee may be entitled to 26 workweeks of leave during a one-year period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the service member’s direct relative.

Eligibility

The FMLA applies to the following:

  • - Public agencies; and
  • - Private employers with 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous calendar year.

In order for an individual to be eligible, the employee must:

  1. 1. Work for a covered employer;
  2. 2. Have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start date of the leave;
  3. 3. Work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and
  4. 4. Have worked for the employer for 12 months.

The 12 months of work does not need to be consecutive. Further, under most circumstances, only employment within the last seven years is counted.

For more information about the requirements of the FMLA, whether you are an employer or employee, you should speak with an experienced Illinois employment law attorney. Our firm represents clients throughout the northwest suburbs, including Deer Park, Buffalo Grove, and Crystal Lake. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Employment Discrimination in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, April 30, 2015

employment discrimination in Illinois, Rolling Meadows employment lawyerEmployees are protected from employment discrimination through federal and state laws. While the federal protections are fairly extensive, Illinois state law provides even larger groups of people with protection. Understanding these laws will enable individuals to recognize if they have been discriminated against in relation to employment.

Protected Classes

Through numerous different laws, the federal government prohibits discrimination based on:

  1. 1. Race/Color;

  2. 2. National origin;

  3. 3. Religion;

  4. 4. Sex;

  5. 5. Disability;

  6. 6. Age (for people over 40);

  7. 7. Citizenship status; and

  8. 8. Genetic information

The federal laws provide the minimum protections afforded to individuals. Through its own laws, Illinois provides protection from discrimination based on:

  1. 1. Marital status;

  2. 2. Sexual orientation;

  3. 3. Military status;

  4. 4. Unfavorable military discharge;

  5. 5. Gender identity;

  6. 6. Arrest record; and

  7. 7. Lack of permanent mailing address or using the address of a shelter or social service provider.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (Department) investigates employment discrimination filed against private employers, state or local government, unions, and employment agencies. A charge of employment discrimination must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination in order to utilize the Department to investigate. Alternatively, an individual can file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Department will only investigate claims against companies with 15 or more employees, unless:

  1. 1. The charge alleges sexual harassment, retaliation, or physical or mental disability discrimination – in these circumstances only one employee subjects the employer to the anti-discrimination law;

  2. 2. The employer is a public contractor, which is defined as an employer who does business with Illinois or a unit of local government; or

  3. 3. The employer is a unit of state government.

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, it is a civil rights violation for an “employer to refuse to hire, to segregate, or to act with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, renewal of employment, selection for training or apprenticeship, discharge, discipline, tenure or terms, privileges or conditions of employment on the basis of unlawful discrimination or citizenship status.” It is also unlawful for an employer to impose a restriction that has the effect of prohibiting an employee from using a language to communicate in situations unrelated to the employee’s duties.

Illinois law protects against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Further, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations when requested by an employee for issues related to pregnancy or childbirth unless the employer can demonstrate that providing such accommodations would impose an undue hardship on the ordinary course of the employer’s business.

Can We Help You?

Employees in Illinois are provided with a great deal of protection from employment discrimination by both federal and state law. If you believe you have been discriminated against in relation to employment, you should speak with an experienced Illinois employment law attorney. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients throughout the northwest suburbs, including Rolling Meadows, Barrington, and Arlington Heights. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Rauner Introduces Right to Work Order

Web Admin - Monday, February 23, 2015

Illinois right to work order, Palatine employment law attorneyBefore being elected governor, Gov. Rauner worked in the private sector, and as a result one of the major focuses of his campaign was making the state's economic climate friendlier to businesses. Although he is proposing a variety of changes such as workers' compensation reform that would likely need the approval of the legislature, he has just taken a small step with a recent executive order. The executive order essentially institutes a version of right to work laws for public sector employees, and some commentators think it may be the governor testing the waters for introducing a more general right to work law.

Right to Work Generally

The purpose of right to work laws is to allow workers to choose whether they want to participate in a union. Currently, workers in companies where they would be represented by unions are allowed not to participate in the union, but they still have union dues deducted from their paychecks. From one angle this makes sense, since even non-union workers get the benefits of the union's existence, such as higher wages and better benefits. Forced collection of union dues prevents people from free-riding on the work of other people who pay for and participate in the union. However, there are many employees for whom the union dues represent a significant cost. Public sector employees who would be affected by the governor's order have hundreds of dollars a year taken from their pay for unions. Right to work lets the employees put that money towards the things that they think are most important.

Rauner's Executive Order

For most people, Governor Rauner's executive order does not change anything. It only implements right to work rules for the public sector employees represented by unions. Workers in the private sector will still be required to pay union dues if they were before. Additionally, the new order is being challenged in the courts as an over-extension of the governor's executive authority. The court has put a stay on the enforcement of the order until its constitutionality is decided.

Although the order does not directly affect most employees, it may be a sign of where the governor may be making changes in the future. In the past, right to work laws have not been a major issue in Illinois because, of the surrounding states, only Iowa had one. However, other states in the area have already passed or are moving to pass right to work legislation. These states include Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and Missouri. This may lead to a stronger push for private sector right to work legislation in Illinois in an effort to prevent businesses from crossing borders into neighboring states.

The field of employment law is constantly changing. If you are worried about whether your business is in compliance with it or you think your rights as an employee are being violated, contact an Illinois employment law attorney today. Our firm serves clients across the northwest suburbs, including in Palatine, Barrington, and Inverness.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Overtime Violations in Restaurants

Web Admin - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

illinois overtime violationsWage theft is an increasingly common practice in which employers deprive their workers of wages they are owed through practices like improperly logging their hours or simply failing to pay wages fully and promptly. The problem is serious enough that a report from the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago estimates that workers in Cook County lose more than one million dollars a day to the practice. One of the most common methods of wage theft is through the violation of overtime laws. Overtime in the restaurant industry is a particular problem because of how overtime rules interact with minimum wage provisions and the tip credit.

Understanding the Tip Credit

The tip credit is a specific exception to minimum wage law that allows employers to pay employees less than minimum wage on the assumption that the worker’s tips will make up the difference. Restaurants are one of the main industries that can take advantage of the tip credit because of their high percentage of tipped employees, such as servers and bartenders.

The exact amount of the tip credit varies by state. In Illinois, employers may deduct up to 40 percent of the Illinois minimum wage as tip credit, giving a new minimum wage of $4.95. The tip credit is a complex piece of the minimum wage law that can give rise to a variety of violations by employers. One of the most complicated of these issues related to the tip credit is how it interacts with overtime law.

The Tip Credit and Overtime

Generally speaking, overtime laws require employers to pay their workers one and a half times their hourly wage for working more than 40 hours in a week. However, restaurants and other employers can still take advantage of the tip credit. Unfortunately, many do so incorrectly. The issue is that many employers take the tip credit out before multiplying the hourly wage by one and a half, when they should take it out after. To illustrate the difference, suppose a server works 60 hours in one week and is paid $4.95 an hour plus tips.

For the first 40 hours, the employer can simply pay the $4.95, but for the last 20 they need to start paying overtime. The incorrect way to do the calculation would be to simply multiply the $4.95 wage by 1.5 giving a new wage of $7.43, which would result in a paycheck of $148.60 for those 20 hours. The proper way to perform the calculation is to multiply the full minimum wage, $8.25, by 1.5 to get $12.38, and then subtract the tip credit afterwards to get a minimum wage of $9.08 and a paycheck of $181.60, a serious difference from the incorrect calculation.

If you believe you have been the victim of an overtime violation, contact an Illinois employment lawyer today. Our firm helps clients in many towns across the northwest suburbs, including in Palatine, Barrington, and Schaumburg.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Employers Offering "Comp" Time Instead of Overtime

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

illinois overtime employee lawyerMany employees are owed overtime by their employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) once they work more than 40 hours in a week. Illinois also has a separate wage and hour law that comes into effect at the same 40-hour mark. While many employers dutifully obey these laws and pay the qualifying employees time-and-a-half during overtime, sometimes, either intentionally or by mistake, employers subvert these laws. One of the most common ways that employers attempt to get around paying overtime is through the use of compensatory or "comp" time instead of overtime.

This practice involves employers allowing a worker to take paid hours off in the future based on the amount of overtime hours worked. Most commonly these hours off will be either equal to the amount of overtime, or an hour and a half off for each hour of overtime.

Who Is Entitled to Overtime?

The first step in determining whether an employer is violating wage and hour laws related to overtime is to find out if the law mandates overtime for the employee in question. The first place to look is in the FLSA, which governs overtime requirements on a federal level. The FLSA qualifies all hourly employees for overtime pay, unless they fall into a list of exemptions. The Department of Labor provides a full list of exempt employees. Some of the most commonly applicable exemptions are:

  • - Sales employees working on commission;
  • - Computer professionals making at least $23.67 an hour;
  • - Drivers, loaders, and mechanics employed by motor carriers;
  • - Salesmen, partsmen, and mechanics who work for automobile dealerships; and
  • - Executive, administrative, and professional employees who are paid on a salaried basis.

Illinois’ wage and hour law also contains a list of exemptions, though these largely overlap with the FLSA’s list. For an employee to be exempt from overtime requirements, their occupation would need to be exempted from both the FLSA and the Illinois overtime law.

Is Comp Time Legal?

If a private sector employee falls under the ambit of overtime laws, then paying them with compensatory time instead of an overtime rate violates overtime laws. The purpose of those laws is to provide employees a premium for working overtime, which comp time circumvents. Importantly, this rationale does not apply to all rearrangements of schedules. The overtime laws focus on a weekly time scale, meaning that working more than eight hours in a day does not qualify a person for overtime, and an employer is allowed to shift time within the week to keep an employee below the 40 hour threshold. It is only the banking of paid time off in lieu of an overtime premium that violates the law.

If you believe you have been the victim of an overtime violation like comp time, reach out to a Barrington employment lawyer today. Our team handles cases in many northwest suburbs, including Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, and Palatine.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Rundown of the Illinois’ Sales Representative Act

Web Admin - Friday, November 22, 2013

Employers often pay their salespeople a commission, meaning that the salesperson collects a percentage of whatever they can sell. It is a way for employers to motivate their sellers, and it lets sellers see the benefits of their hard work. But, both employers and employees should note that Illinois passed a special employment law, the Sales Representative Act, to regulate how employers must pay these commissions.

The Sales Representative Act applies to all commissions, which it defines as a compensation scheme based in whole or in part on a percentage either of the employee’s gross sales, or the net profits from those sales. The Act covers three main areas: when commissions come due to the employee; how employers should handle commissions owed to a terminated employee; and the penalties that can apply to employers if they fail to comply with the Act.

As to when the employer must pay the commissions, the Act contains several scenarios. If the employee’s contract specifies a due date for the commission, then the Act allows that to control. However if the employee works without a contract, or if the contract does not specify a date, then the Act looks to the employer’s past practice of when they pay the employee, and then holds the employer to that schedule. If the employer only recently hired the salesperson, meaning there is no past practice, then the Act uses the standard practice of the salesperson’s industry to determine when the employer owes commissions.

The Act also lays out specific requirements for paying commissions to terminated employees. If the employer owes any commissions to the employee at the time they let the employee go, then the employer must pay those commissions within thirteen days of the employee’s termination. If more commissions come due after the employee’s termination, then the employer must pay those no later than thirteen days after they come due. Additionally, the Act specifies that an employee’s waiver of the right to collect on commissions after they are terminated will not be enforced.

The Act also contains severe penalties for employers who fail to comply with the Act’s guidelines for when to pay commissions. An employee may sue them for failure to pay, and receive up to three times the value of the commissions. Additionally, the employer may be forced to cover the salesperson’s court costs as well as their attorney’s fees.

Legal Help

If you are a salesperson being paid on commission who believes their employer violated this act, or if you are an employer concerned about whether your practices comply with the law, contact an experienced Illinois employment lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, and other nearby communities.


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