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Worker’s Rights and Protections – Are You Entitled to a Meal Break?

Web Admin - Saturday, October 21, 2017

Illinois employee rights attorneyEmployers may know the laws that pertain to their business and the rights that their employees possess, but they are not always willing to reveal such information. For example, an employer might not explain to you that you may be entitled to time off work under the Family Medical Leave Act if your child, spouse, or parent becomes ill. Some may even know you are dealing with an illness in the family and refuse to tell you because it would hurt their bottom line. 

Rest breaks – particularly lunch breaks – are another area where employers are sometimes less than straightforward. They may imply that you are not entitled to one, or they may avoid your questions if you ask. Some will even go so far as to terminate an employee that asserts their rights, but they will usually try to find another reason to list in their files because they know it could land them in legal trouble. Learn more about your rights to rest breaks, and discover what an experienced attorney can do for you in your wrongful termination or unpaid wages case. 

Employee Meal Breaks in Illinois 

While there are several federal labor laws that protect employees from discrimination and harassment, those pertaining to meal breaks fall under each state’s jurisdiction. As such, an employee’s right to a meal break is governed by Illinois state law, which states that employees are entitled to a meal break after they work 7 ½ hours in a day. The break may be unpaid, but it must last at least 20 minutes. The employee cannot be required to perform work duties while on their break, and they cannot force an employee to stay on premises unless certain criteria apply. 

When Employers Fail to Provide Breaks 

Employers who violate state law by not providing meal breaks to eligible employees may be held liable for their actions by the state or through litigation. The latter typically stem from cases brought against the employer by former employees, who may be seeking lost wages or other damages. Employees may be eligible for additional compensation if they were wrongfully terminated for trying to assert their right to a rest period. 

Unfortunately, the legal process for pursuing damages is both complex and arduous. Employees are also at a distinct disadvantage in employment litigation matters. Much of this is due to the employer’s access to resources, including that of a legal professional to protect their business. Employees are encouraged to seek experienced legal assistance with their wrongful termination or rights violation case. 

Contact Our Schaumburg Employee Rights Attorney 

If you or someone you love has experienced a loss because of a violation of meal or rest periods, contact Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC for assistance. Dedicated and experienced, our Schaumburg employee rights attorneys can aggressively represent your case. No matter what the situation, we will pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Get started by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call 847-934-6000 today. 

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.


Source: https://www.illinois.gov/idol/FAQs/Pages/meals-breaks-faq.aspx

Getting the Overtime Pay You Deserve

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

overtime pay you deserve, Illinois Employment Law Attorneys Countless workers in Illinois are eligible for overtime compensation when they work more than their standard work week worth of hours. For those overtime compensation eligible workers, once 40 hours of work is put in for a week, anything above and beyond that should be compensated at a rate of time and a half. Workers who are typically eligible for overtime pay protections are general laborers (not agricultural laborers), workers who are compensated through tips, and many blue collar workers. Some salaried workers may also be eligible, depending on their circumstances. 

Anyone who believes that they have been wrongly denied compensation for overtime hours that they have worked should consult with an experienced employment law attorney at our law office. Our professionals can help you determine if you are eligible for overtime compensation by your employer. 

Workers’ Overtime Compensation Rights Under the Law

Certain workers are eligible for overtime compensation at a rate of time-and-a-half under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is a federal law which protects workers from grueling hours without pay. A worker who believes that he or she has been wrongly denied overtime pay can file a claim with the wage and hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL will review the employee’s claim, and will determine whether an investigation needs to be conducted into the alleged violation of the FLSA by the employee’s employer. 

When the employee’s claim is found to be valid, the DOL will pursue the back wages from the employer on the worker’s behalf. The employee can also sue his or her employer for owed back wages as well. 

Under the FLSA and Illinois law, workers who are executives, administrators, professionals, and some computer workers who earn at least $455 a week are exempt from overtime compensation. This means that these workers are not entitled to overtime pay if they work more than their standard 40-hour work week. Independent contracts, and some live-in employees are also exempt from unpaid overtime protections. External sales people are also often exempt from overtime pay protection laws. 

There are several exemptions to the overtime pay laws, and these exemptions can be confusing. Tests are used to determine if a worker qualifies for protection, and sometimes it is difficult to determine whether you are eligible under the laws or not. An experienced employment law attorney can help you assess your eligibility for unpaid overtime compensation protection. 

If you are concerned that your employer is not compensating you for overtime that you have worked, and you believe that you are eligible for overtime pay protection under the FLSA and Illinois law, you should consult with an Illinois employment law attorneys today. Our law firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Inverness, and Deer Park. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

      Ken Apicella

      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.




Sources:
https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/fairlaborstandact.pdf
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2400&ChapterID=68

My Employer is Discriminating Against Me for Taking Time Off Under the FMLA

Web Admin - Friday, May 06, 2016

employer discrimination, taking FMLA, Illinois Employment Law AttorneyMost workers have a federally protected right under the Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take up to 12 weeks off from work, unpaid, to care for themselves or a close family member who is sick or injured. Additionally, workers do not have to fear losing their job or being discriminated against or retaliated against. 

If you believe that you are an employee who is eligible for FMLA protection, but are worried that your employer has unlawfully violated your FMLA rights, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible.

Examples of When a Person Can Take Time Off Under the FMLA

There are several instances when a worker can take unpaid leave from his or her job under the FMLA. Examples include:

- When a worker is ill, injured, or has a serious medical condition;

- When a worker needs to provide care for his or her spouse, child, or parent who has a serious medical condition or illness;

- When a worker is incapacitated due to pregnancy;

- When a worker needs prenatal care before a child birth;

- Child birth;

- When a worker needs to provide care to his or her newborn child; or

- A worker is pacing a child up for adoption or into foster care. 

How Do Workers Use FMLA Leave?

When a worker has notice ahead of time that he or she will need to take time off from work under the FMLA, he or she must provide his or her employer with 30 days of notice if possible. When advanced notice is not possible, or the need to take time under the FMLA is sudden and unplanned, workers need to provide notice as soon as possible. Works must follow their employer’s normal policies concerning taking leave. 

Employers Must Respect Your FMLA RIghts

If you are a worker who is eligible for FMLA protection, then your employer must comply with the law and allow you to take the qualifying time that you need. Employers are not permitted to interfere with your rights under the FMLA, nor can an employer restrain you or deny you your FMLA rights. Your employer is also prohibited from discharging you, or discriminating against you, for exercising your rights under the FMLA. 

Discrimination could take the form of:

- Treating you differently after you took FMLA time off;

- Denying you promotions or certain work projects or assignments;

-Giving you a bad review for no good reason other than that you took time off under the FMLA; and/or

- Deeming you ineligible for promotions or bonuses because you took time off under the FMLA. 

No one who is eligible for FMLA protections should be denied his or her rights by his or her employer. If you believe that your employer has improperly taken action against you or has discriminated against you for taking unpaid leave under the FMLA, you should consult with an Illinois employment law attorney today. 

Our law firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Inverness, and Deer Park. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

    Ken Apicella

    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.




Source: 
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/chapter-28

What is Wrongful Termination?

Web Admin - Friday, April 08, 2016

wrongful termination, Illinois Employment Law AttorneysLoosing a job can be devastating to both you and your family. However, because Illinois is an at-will employment state, employers are generally allowed to terminate employees for whatever reasons they so choose. Still, this is not to say that all bases for termination are legal. 

When you are concerned that your employment termination was a wrongful termination, or you believe that your termination was in some way illegal, then you should discuss your case with an experienced employment law attorney to learn more about your rights.

Wrongful Termination 

There are legal protections in place to protect workers from wrongful termination. “Wrongful termination” does not necessarily mean that you feel your termination is unfair or unjustified. Rather, “wrongful termination” implies that the termination violates the law in some way. An employer may not terminate an employee for the following reasons:

- If the termination would violate an employment contract;

- If the termination was made on a discriminatory basis;

- If the termination is retaliatory for the employee exercising his or her rights. For instance, the following are impermissible grounds upon which to terminate an employee: 

- Filing a worker’s compensation claim;

- Filing a workplace safety complaint; 

- Filing a sexual harassment action; and

- Reporting wrongdoing in the company, i.e., whistle-blowing. 

- For taking legally protected time off from work for things such as jury duty, military leave, or time needed to care for oneself or his or her family members under the Family Medical Leave Act. 

Each of the above identified grounds for a termination would be a “wrongful termination” since each one violates the law in some way. 

Employment Contracts

Employees who have an employment contract are not considered to be “at will” employees. Rather, employment contracts impose a legal obligation between the employer and the employee—the employee will remain employed until the termination of the contract. Early termination of the employee would be an early termination of the contract, which is a violation of the terms of the contract. 

Discriminatory Termination 

Termination of an employee on the basis of discrimination is a violation of state and federal employment discrimination laws. There are certain legally protected statuses upon which an employee cannot be discriminated. These include the employee’s age, sex, race, religion, disability, national origin, pregnancy, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, unfavorable military discharge, arrest record, and lack of a permanent mailing address.

Retaliatory Termination

Employees have certain protected rights in Illinois under the Illinois Whistleblower Act and Illinois case law. Under these laws workers are allowed to exercise their rights without having to fear being terminated from their job. Employees can report instances of illegal conduct to the appropriate government authorities, and can also refuse to participate in company activities that the worker believes to be illegal. 

Employment law issues, such as wrongful termination, can be confusing. However, a skilled attorney can help. Please contact one of our experienced Illinois employment law attorneys today. Our Illinois law firm serves the communities of Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Barrington, Palatine, Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

    Ken Apicella

    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.



Sources: 

http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.aspDocName=077500050HArt%2E+2&ActID=2266&ChapterID=64&SeqStart=600000&SeqEnd=1200000

http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2495


Severance Agreements

Web Admin - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

severance agreements, Illinois employment law attorneyIndividuals who are facing termination from employment may be offered a severance package. The terms of this package are contained within a severance agreement. Employees facing termination should pay careful attention to the terms placed within the agreement and be sure that they understand what the terms mean before signing. 

Provisions in Severance Agreements

Severance agreements are important to employers and employees. For employers, they provide protection against the employee filing a lawsuit against the employer in the future. For employees, the agreement describes what payment and benefits they will receive. Additionally, provisions can be included to protect against what will be said to future prospective employers about the reasons for the termination. The following are several of the most common issues that are addressed in severance agreements: 

- Severance Pay: Payment for the termination is usually offered in some term of weeks (for example, five weeks of pay). It is common for the offer to be based on the length of employment, such as one week of pay for each year of employment.

- Vacation Pay: Employees are entitled to payment for earned, but unused vacation time.

- Non-compete Agreement: If the employer and employee entered into a non-compete agreement, the employer should provide a copy of it to the employee and remind him or her of the terms and conditions. Additionally, changes to the non-compete can be made during severance negotiations and placed in the agreement.

- Returning Equipment: A discussion of what happens to any property of the employer (such as a company phone, laptop, or keycards) that is in the possession of the employee should be included in the agreement. This provision should explain how and by what date the property must be returned.

- Future Jobs: For the terminated employee, it is likely that he or she will be searching for a new job. In that case, it is important for the employee and his or her former employer to agree on how the employer will communicate with prospective employers. If the employee and employer give different reasons for the termination, it can be detrimental in the search for a new job. Additionally, the parties may enter into a non-disparagement clause, which states that neither of them will make disparaging remarks about the other to third parties. A non-disparagement clause should specifically define what cannot be said.

- Claims Waived: This is often the most important provision for employers. Under this provision, the employee relinquishes any right to file a lawsuit against the employer. It should define all of the types of claims and lawsuits that are barred.

- Employees Over 40 Years Old: These types of employees are protected by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). Workers 40 years of age and older must be given 21 days to review the severance agreement prior to signing it. Further, they have seven days after signing the agreement to change their mind and revoke it. 

Helping Employees 

If you are faced with a severance agreement negotiation, you should contact a skilled Illinois employment law attorney as soon as possible. Our team can help you understand the provisions in severance agreements, which can help you secure benefits and protect your rights. We proudly represent individuals the communities of Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park. We look forward to hearing from you. 

      Ken Apicella

      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.



Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/owbpa.html


Sexual Harassment Under Federal Law

Web Admin - Friday, December 18, 2015

sexual harassment under federal law, Crystal Lake Employment Law AttorneyOne of the most serious issues that can occur in the workplace is sexual harassment. It is a violation of both state and federal laws and can be committed by and against numerous different individuals. Sexual harassment is considered a civil rights violation.

Defining Sexual Harassment 

Under federal law, sexual harassment is defined as any sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is not welcomed. The conduct must be so severe or frequent that it creates a hostile or intimidating workplace. It is important to note that sexual harassment can occur between people of the same or opposite gender. Further, a victim does not need to be the individual being harassed. If an individual is affected by offensive conduct, a sexual harassment claim may be made. 

Specifically, sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Title VII applies to state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encourages employers to provide training on sexual harassment and to communicate to employees that it will not be tolerated. Under Illinois law, companies and state agencies must develop policies on sexual harassment. State agencies must post these policies in a prominent and accessible location, as well as distribute them to all employees.

Victims of sexual harassment can file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. The potential remedies may include compensatory and punitive damages, though the damage awards are capped dependent upon the size of the employer. For example, the damage award is capped at $50,000 for employers with 15-100 employees. 

Federal Employees 

Victims of sexual harassment who are federal employees must follow specific procedures when making a claim. Under most circumstances, a federal employee must contact an EEOC counselor of the agency where the harassment occurred within 45 days of the date of the harassment. After the claim has been made, it is addressed either through EEO counseling or alternate dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation. 

It is important to note that federal employees cannot file a lawsuit until attempting to resolve the matter through the administrative complaint process. However, during the process, there are opportunities to initiate a lawsuit under the following circumstances: 

1. 180 days have passed since the complaint was filed and no decision has been made and no appeal has been filed; 

2.  Within 90 days of the complainant receiving the agency’s decision, as long as no appeal has been filed; 

3. 180 days have passed from the filing of an appeal if no decision has been issued by the EEOC; or 

4. Within 90 days from the date the complainant receives the EEOC’s decision after an appeal. 

If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, it is important to contact an experienced Illinois employment law attorney as soon as possible. Our firm can help stop unwanted harassment and pursue compensation for damages you have suffered. We represent individuals in Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park.

    Ken Apicella

    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.




Sources: 

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title29-vol4/xml/CFR-2011-title29-vol4-part1604.xml

http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2266&ChapterID=64&SeqStart=600000&SeqEnd=1200000


Misclassification of Employees

Web Admin - Thursday, November 19, 2015

    misclassification of employees, Illinois employment law attorneyIndividuals who are performing work for a business entity are generally either classified as independent contractors or employees. The difference between the two classifications is important; being considered an employee entitles individuals to greater benefits than independent contractors receive. Unfortunately, whether intentionally or not, the misclassification of employees occurs, and can end up costing employees access to significant benefits. 

    Classifying Workers 

    An independent contractor provides a good or service while retaining control over how that good or service is provided or performed. Moreover, an independent contractor will often treat the entity that he or she provides the work for more like a customer or client, rather than an employer. Frequently, an independent contractor will be performing similar work for multiple entities. 

    If a person performing work is considered an independent contractor, the business entity can avoid providing the person with the benefits that employees are entitled to. Some of these benefits include workers’ compensation, overtime pay, insurance, minimum wage, and family or medical leave. By avoiding these benefits, the entity can enjoy significant cost savings, which can create a competitive advantage over similar businesses. However, this comes at the expense of the individuals the entity employs. 

    Under the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, a presumption of employment exists that must be rebutted by the entity in order to lawfully classify the individual performing work as an independent contractor. Specifically, an individual performing services for a business entity is considered an employee unless it is proven that:

    1. The individual is free from the entity’s control or direction over the performance of the work, both under the terms of the contract and in fact;

    2. The service provided is outside of the normal course of the business or is completely performed outside of all of the places of business of the entity; and

    3. The individual is part of an independently created trade, occupation, profession or business. 

    Under the Illinois Employee Classification Act, a construction worker is considered an independent contractor if the above test is met or if the worker is a sole proprietor or partnership. 

    Holding Employers Liable 

    The Illinois Department of Labor, as well as various other government agencies, is responsible for enforcing state laws that govern employee misclassification. Consequences for misclassifying employees as independent contractors include the assessment of interest on late or delinquent unemployment insurance trust contributions and financial penalties. An employer that does not obtain workers’ compensation insurance can be fined up to $500 for every day that it is non-compliant, with a minimum fine of $10,000. It is also possible for an individual to file a personal lawsuit against his or her employer to recover damages such as wages, back overtime pay, or other lost benefits. 

    If you believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, it is important to contact an experienced Illinois employment law attorney as soon as possible. There are potentially significant benefits that you have been denied as a result of that misclassification. Our firm proudly helps individuals in communities throughout the northwest suburbs, including Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Deer Park, Inverness, Arlington Heights, Barrington, and Buffalo Grove. 

      Ken Apicella

      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.



    Sources:

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=082004050K212

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2898&ChapterID=68


    Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

    Web Admin - Friday, September 18, 2015

    sexual harassment in the workplace, Illinois employment law attorneySome of the most damaging and costly issues that develop in the workplace are those related to sexual harassment. When sexual harassment is allowed to occur, it creates an environment that is less productive and opens the possibility for serious lawsuits. It is important for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding sexual harassment. For employers, it provides a better understanding of what is required and how to prevent harassment. For employees, it serves as guidance for knowing what behavior rises to harassment.  

    Harassment in Illinois  

    Sexual harassment is prohibited by federal, state, and local law. Under Illinois law, sexual harassment is defined as any sexual advances or requests for sexual favors when they are not welcomed. Additionally, sexual harassment includes any conduct of a sexual nature when:  

    1. Submission to such conduct is an implied or express condition of the victim’s employment; 

    2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions related to the victim; or 

    3. Such conduct substantially interferes with a victim’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. It is a civil rights violation for a person to engage in sexual harassment. 

    Further, an employer is considered responsible for the sexual harassment of employees if the employer is aware of the conduct and does not take reasonable corrective measures. While sexual harassment is usually thought of as being sexual in nature, it does not need to be. Sexual harassment occurs when offensive remarks are made about a person’s gender. For example, a woman is sexually harassed if a person makes offensive comments to her about women generally. Victims and harassers can be either a man or a woman. Further, it is also possible for sexual harassment to occur between a victim and a harasser of the same gender.  

    Preventing Harassment  

    It is the responsibility of the employer to prevent sexual harassment. One of the ways in which this is accomplished is through the adoption and use of a sexual harassment policy. Ordinarily, this policy is part of the employee handbook that all employees should be given. The sexual harassment policy should contain the following: 

    1. Definition of sexual harassment;  

    2. A statement that harassment will not be tolerated, with disciplinary action for those who commit it; and 

    3. A description of the procedure victims should take to file a complaint. Employers should also provide training and education on sexual harassment to both employees and those in supervisory or managerial roles. This training should explain what sexual harassment is, how complaints should be filed, and how complaints should be investigated and addressed.  

    Legal Help for Employers and Employees 

    For more information about the laws regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a skilled Illinois employment law attorney today. Whether you are an employer or employee, our firm can help. We proudly serve communities throughout the northwest suburbs, including Deer Park, Inverness, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines, Palatine, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake.

        Ken Apicella

        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.



        Source: 

          http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2266&ChapterID=64&SeqStart=600000&SeqEnd=1200000

    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.

    New Law Mandates Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Women

    Web Admin - Thursday, December 11, 2014

    pregnant woman wrongful termination, employee rights lawyerDiscrimination against pregnant women in the workforce has long been a concern, and now the Illinois legislature has passed a new law designed to help give women greater protection. The new law modifies the Illinois Human Rights Act, effective starting next year, to more clearly protect pregnant women's rights. The new rights include the right to reasonable accommodation of their pregnancy by their employers, protection from employment discrimination, and protection from forced leave. The law also grants employers some protection from unreasonable demands, such as the ability to refuse accommodations if such accommodations would place an undue hardship on the business.

    New Rights for Pregnant Women

    The law includes four new rights for “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions related to childbirth.” The most legally complex of these rights is the right to a reasonable accommodation of their pregnancy. These accommodations are changes to the employee’s duties or their workspace that allow the employee to perform the “essential duties” of the position. The law provides some examples of these reasonable accommodations, which may include things like more frequent bathroom breaks, private space for breastfeeding, or a modified work schedule.

    The law also provides another set of more concrete rights to pregnant women. For instance, employers may not force accommodations onto a pregnant woman if she does not want them, a provision that is likely designed to protect women from being forced to modify or reduce their work schedules. Similarly, the law forbids an employer from forcing a pregnant woman to take maternity leave if she chooses not to.

    Employer's Rights

    The law also includes a new set of rights for employers that relate to the issue of reasonable accommodation. The first right is that employers can claim that the accommodation the woman is asking for would place an undue hardship on the company. The law defines undue hardship as “an action that is prohibitively expensive or disruptive.” It also provides four factors for judges to consider when determining whether something is an undue hardship:

    1. 1. The nature and cost of the accommodations;
    2. 2. The financial resources of the facility providing the accommodation and the accommodation's impact on the company's operations;
    3. 3. The resources and size of the employer; and
    4. 4. The type of work the employer does.

    This provides a highly individualized test that depends greatly on both the specific employer and the accommodation requested. The law also provides the employer with the right to request medical documentation supporting the need for the accommodation.

    If you believe that your rights under this new act are being violated or if you are an employer concerned about your obligations under the new law, contact a Crystal Lake employment law attorney today. Our firm helps many northwest suburban employees and businesses in towns like Rolling Meadows, Crystal Lake, Arlington Heights, Inverness, Deer Park, Palatine, and Barrington.

    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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