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.

Employee Misclassification and Why It Matters

Web Admin - Monday, March 30, 2015

employment contract, Illinois employment law lawyerThe relationship between employers and employees comes with many legal complexities, and there are times when employers can improperly curtail employees' rights, either by accident or design. One common place where this sort of issue arises is through employee misclassification, the practice of designating an employee as an independent contractor. Although the decision of which of those classes a worker falls into is one for a court to decide, many employers choose to make an improper classification in order to avoid having to provide things like overtime pay or workers' compensation insurance.

What Misclassification Is

There are two classes of worker for many employment law purposes: employees and independent contractors. Generally speaking, the difference between the two is the amount of control that an employer exercises over them. The more control, the more likely the court is to find that an employer/employee relationship exists. However, there are actually a variety of factors that courts look to, including:

  • - How much direction the employer gives in how to complete tasks;
  • - The type of evaluation system the worker operates under;
  • - Whether the business trains the worker;
  • - Whether the business reimburses the worker's expenses;
  • - Whether the worker can work for other employers;
  • - How the worker is paid;
  • - Whether the relationship is intended to be long-term; and
  • - Whether the worker's services are a key part of the business.

Examples can often be helpful to understand whether someone qualifies as an employee or an independent contractor. For instance, a secretary working at an office for years probably qualifies as an employee because of the high amount of control the employer would retain, as well as the other factors. Conversely, an IT worker hired to set up the company's network would probably be an independent contractor because they are going about the work in their own way, and the job's duration is limited.

Why It Matters

This distinction matters because it affects the responsibility that an employer has towards the worker. Many of the legal protections afforded to workers are only given to people in an employer/employee relationship. For instance, many employers misclassify their employees in order to avoid paying overtime pay or to avoid providing workers' compensation insurance. They can also use misclassification to shift tax burdens onto the worker, by avoiding things like unemployment insurance and Social Security taxes.

A worker's classification is a matter for courts to decide, and how an employer has elected to treat the worker is immaterial. If you believe that you have been misclassified and are losing access to benefits like overtime pay or workers' compensation benefits, contact an experienced Illinois employment lawyer today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves workers in many northwest suburban towns, such as Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Inverness, Deer Park, 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.

Changes to Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act Regulations

Web Admin - Friday, February 06, 2015

Illinois wage payment, Rolling Meadows employment lawyerLast year, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) made a set of important changes to the regulations it uses to govern the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. Although these changes are substantive and significant, relatively little has been publicized about the changes. Employers should take note of these new employment regulations to ensure that they are in compliance with the IDOL's new positions on various items, as they can have a serious impact on business operations. The new regulations make a variety of substantive changes, some of which are specific and mechanical, while others are broad and may represent new attitudes about enforcement at the IDOL.

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act is a state statute that governs the way that employers are required to pay wages to their employees. These sorts of requirements include things like how often employers must pay their employees, how employers should handle final payments for terminated employees, and how to handle payments for striking workers. As with many laws, they are supported by a set of regulations. Unlike laws, regulations are promulgated by the administrative agencies that are tasked with enforcing the statute. Yet, like laws, regulations still have binding impact on employers, so it is important for employers to keep abreast of changes in the regulations.

The Changed Regulations

The IDOL recently changed the regulations that accompany the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act in a variety of different ways. These are just some of the more important changes.

The new regulations include a sweeping definition of an “agreement” between employees and employers. It means “a manifestation of mutual assent on the part of two or more persons.” The definition goes on to discuss the fact that agreements are broader than contracts and things like employee handbooks and past practices can constitute agreements, even over express disclaimers in some circumstances. This means that employers may end up binding themselves to prior wage practices permanently.

The new regulations also change certain notice and recordkeeping requirements. For instance, the regulations now require employers to provide written notice of a person's wage when they are hired and whenever that rate changes, to the extent possible. Additionally, employers must now keep records of the hours all employees work per week, regardless of whether any of the employees are actually subject to overtime requirements.

These are just some of the changes that the IDOL recently made to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act regulations. If you are concerned about your company's compliance or believe that your employer is violating your rights as an employee, contact an Illinois employment law attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves many different clients across the northwest suburban area, including in towns like Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, and Deer Park.

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.

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