The relationship between an employee and an employer can be a complex matter that involves issues regarding how a company is managed and have serious future implications for an employee’s and a company’s financial future. Moreover, the employer-employee relationship is governed by a maze of laws and administrative agencies. Employment law litigation, if an issue reaches that stage, can be filled with unexpected contingencies and involve not only financial but also emotional and manpower costs for everyone involved.
If you are an employee or an employer, you should consult with a seasoned attorney if you find yourself facing employment law issues. The Law Office of Richard J. Arendt has been serving clients in the greater Chicagoland area for over 38 years. Richard and his associates can provide you with expert legal advice to help you vindicate your employment rights, if you are an employee, or if you are an employer, provide you with your best options for managing your workforce legally and efficiently.
Employment law covers a wide variety of issues, including:
- Employment Agreements – Sometimes, an employer may choose to execute an employment agreement with its workers setting forth the terms of their employment relationship. It usually provides an accurate description of the job, the terms of compensation, the duration of the employment relationship, and benefits. Often, employment agreements include the employer’s written policies (often called the employee handbook) that the employee agrees to abide by, including disciplinary actions for misconduct, grounds for termination, and the method for resolve employment disputes.
- Non-compete Clauses – When a potential employee gains access to sensitive business information or trade secrets upon becoming employed with a company, employment agreements will often contain non-competition clauses. These agreements work by making an employee agree not to work for a direct competitor of the employer for a specified period after leaving his or her employment. Trade secrets may involve a formula, program, device, technique, method, process, or pattern that gives a company a competitive advantage because it is not known and cannot be readily learned by other companies who might benefit from it. Non-compete agreements must be reasonable in that a legitimate business reason must drive them, have a limited duration and geographic reach, and must not prohibit employees from engaging in a wide scope of businesses.
- Discrimination and Harassment – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with state statutes and municipal ordinances, prohibit employers from engaging in adverse actions against employees if motivated by a protected category such as race, gender, religion, national origin, color, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, and marital status. At the federal level, claims of discrimination may be brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if it covers a category protected by Title VII. Additionally, claims of discrimination and harassment may also be brought before state fair employment practice agencies if they are alleging conduct motivated by protected categories that the state recognizes. In Illinois, the state’s Department of Human Rights enforces its laws against discrimination, which recognizes the bases enumerated above, in addition to arrest records, status as a victim of domestic violence, an order of protection, or the lack of a permanent mailing address or the use of the address of a shelter or social service provider.
- Workers’ Compensation – The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires employers to provide employees with benefits if they suffer injury arising out of and in the course of their employment. These benefits include medical expenses, benefits for temporary total disability or permanent partial disability, and death benefits for surviving families. Disputes regarding workers’ compensation in the state are resolved by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- Wages & Leave – There are various federal and state laws governing minimum wage and overtime, as well as employee leave. These include the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, and Illinois wage laws enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor.
- Occupational Safety & Health – Federal and Illinois state laws contain provisions that are aimed to protect the health and safety of employees by ensuring safe working conditions and that occupational hazards are sufficiently controlled or eliminated. These requirements are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor for private employees and by the Illinois Department of Labor for state employees.
Employers must ensure that they are compliant with these various statutory and regulatory requirements by the federal and Illinois state governments. This includes ensuring that workplace policies are well crafted and thoughtful in setting out rules of conduct for the workplace, and ensuring that employee disputes are handled in a procedurally and legally sound manner. For employees, these laws set forth many of their rights as employees and provide avenues for redress either with federal state and administrative agencies or in federal or state court.
If you live in the greater Chicagoland area, including Boone, Cook, Du Page, Kane, McHenry, Lake, and Will counties, Richard Arendt can provide you with expert legal representation in employment law issues as an employer or as an employee. Richard Arendt is a dedicated Counselor with over 38 years of experience representing clients before administrative tribunals and federal and state courts.