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.

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.

Common Methods of Wage Theft

Web Admin - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

illinois wage theft lawyerMore and more employees are facing issues related to wage theft. Even though many are not aware of what the term actually mean, legal claims related to it have been steadily rising in recent years.

Broadly speaking, wage theft happens when an employer illegally deprives an employee of wages that they are owed. In some cases that can mean subverting laws that guarantee certain benefits to employees, like the minimum wage law, while in others it can simply mean not abiding by the agreement between the employer and the employee, both of which are violations of the law. Wage theft can be broken down into two categories based on the method the employer uses, methods relating to simply depriving the worker of money they are owed, and methods relating to improperly documenting the worker or their pay.

Wage Deprivation

Wage deprivation methods involve improper payroll practices designed to deprive an employee of their pay. The simplest method of this is an employer’s failure to pay their employees on time. This can include tactics like withholding an employee’s last paycheck or paying them for only certain hours or days worked, rather than paying for all their time.

One common, similar method of wage theft involves withholding overtime pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards act, many employees are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Employers often take advantage of confusion among employees as to whether they qualify and refuse to pay overtime. Fortunately, the Department of Labor maintains a guide explaining worker’s overtime rights.

Documentation Issues

Documentation issues are a slightly subtler version of wage theft. Rather than simply withholding wages, employers will adjust their payroll or misclassify employees to stop paying them everything that the employer owes them. One of the simplest documentation violations is agreeing to pay someone below the minimum wage ($8.25 currently), which is illegal. Employers may also adopt improper policies related to clocking-in, like forcing employees to work for a period in the morning before they start logging hours. These sorts of policies qualify as wage theft since employers owe employees for that time.

Additionally, employers could improperly classify their employees as independent contractors. Independent contractor is a specific legal status related to the amount of freedom a worker has to set their hours and perform tasks as they see fit. Most workers a business hires will not fall into this category, but an employer may try to label employees as this since it allows the employer to avoid things like workers compensation insurance and payroll tax by shifting the burden to the worker.

If you believe you have been a victim of wage theft, or have questions about your employer’s practices, get in contact with an Illinois employment lawyer. We serve clients in areas across the northwest suburbs such as Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Arlington Heights.

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.

Retaliatory Discharge and Whistleblower Claims in Illinois

Web Admin - Thursday, January 30, 2014

illinois whistleblower employment lawyerIllinois law creates something called an “at-will” employment relationship between an employee and an employer. Ordinarily, this means that an employer may fire an employee for any reason or even no reason at all. But, Illinois law does create an exception in cases of retaliatory discharge.

A retaliatory discharge occurs when an employer fires an employee for taking an action that is protected by either a statute or general public policy. One of the most common actions that gives rise to a retaliatory discharge claim is an employer's firing of an employee after “whistleblowing.” Whistleblowing means that an employee reported suspected illegal conduct by the employer to the government, and it is protected by 740 ILCS 174.

Illinois Whistleblower Protection

Illinois law provides statutory protection to whistleblowers, so that their employers cannot fire them in retaliation for their reporting. However, the law has a limited set of actions that qualify as whistleblowing for the purposes of legal protection. Employers may not fire their employees for reporting their illegal conduct to a government or law enforcement agency, testifying against them in court, or refusing to perform an illegal act. Furthermore, the information that the employee provides does not actually have to expose any illegal conduct on the part of the employer. Instead, the employee merely needs a reasonable belief that the information involves an illegal act.

The law also contains a few other miscellaneous provisions. It prohibits employers from putting in place policies that that would prevent an employee from disclosing information that they believed involved an illegal act on the part of the employer. Additionally, the law includes a catch-all provision, designed to provide broader protection to whistleblowers. It forbids employers from retaliating against employees for attempting to expose any “public corruption or wrongdoing.”

In addition to forbidding retaliatory discharge, the law also recognizes other types of actions as retaliation. Generally speaking, the law forbids employers to retaliate with “materially adverse employment actions.” While termination is certainly the most common, other things like demotions, pay cuts, transfers and shift changes may qualify under certain circumstances.

In the event that the employee proves that they suffered retaliation, the law provides them with a variety of remedies, including:

  • • Reinstatement; 
  • • Back pay with interest; 
  • • and Compensation for damages from the violation.

If you believe that you suffered a retaliatory discharge for whistleblowing or some other protected act, contact a Chicago employment lawyer today. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team. We serve many Northwest Suburban areas including Barrington, Palatine, Schaumburg, and other surrounding communities.

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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