Under state and federal law employees and their employers have a wide array of legal rights and obligations. Navigating these laws can be difficult, and both employees and employers can benefit from the assistance of specialized legal counsel in confronting their respective employment issues.
In addition to state and federal laws, there are also a number of state and federal agencies that regulate employment and the workplace. These include:
- the Federal Department of Labor (FDOL),
- the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL),
- the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
- the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR),
- the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),
- the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),
- the Illinois Department of Employment Department of Employment Security (IDES).
In addition to the above state and federal agencies, some Illinois counties and municipalities provide additional regulation and enforcement through local administrative agencies.
Due to the wide array of state and federal laws and administrative agencies impacting employment-related matters, knowledgeable, considerate, and prudent legal counsel can often be the difference in a positive or negative outcome.
As an employee it is important to know your rights. From application to termination, employees have rights that can be unlawfully infringed upon by their employers. Under state and federal law it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, color, or national origin, at any stage of the employment relationship. It is also unlawful for any employer, or their management, to engage in sexual harassment of an employee.
In addition to the prohibitions against unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, there are numerous rights and obligations that effect employees generally. For example:
- Non-exempt employees who work more than forty (40) hours in a particular workweek are legally entitled to receive overtime compensation. This can include both wage-an-hour and salaried employees.
- Non-exempt employees must be paid minimum wage for every hour worked.
- Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) qualifying employees are entitled to up to twelve (12) workweeks of medical leave or up to twenty-six (26) workweeks of military caregiver leave in a given year.
- Employees have the right to organize, to form unions, and to bargain collectively with their employer, and employers are prohibited from interfering with these rights.
- Employees are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace environment.
- Upon termination, employees are generally entitled to receive unemployment benefits.
- Employees who report unlawful activity, business practices, or criminal activity, are also protected under the law.
- Employers are prohibited from unlawfully retaliating against employees.
- Employers may not unlawfully terminate an employee.
Some employees may have signed specific contracts with their employers, some may be represented by a union, and some employers may have their own additional rights and obligations in various by-laws and self-imposed policies. These contracts may contain further rights and obligations, and may provide for their own independent causes of action.
The rights of employees are therefore governed by state and federal law, and by contract. If any of the rights afforded to employees are violated or interfered with, there may be a cause of action against the employer.
If you believe any of your rights as an employee were violated or interfered with, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
In addition to representing employees in employment related matters, our offices also assist employers in avoiding employment-related litigation. Employers face not only the risk of liability to their employees, but also the risk of time consuming, distracting, and stressful litigation. Litigation often interferes with an employer’s ability to conduct business, ties up valuable resources, and hampers the growth of the business.
Our office believes that “the best way for an employer to win an employment lawsuit is to avoid an employment lawsuit.” Our offices can counsel employers through all phases of the employee-employer relationship, and guide our business clients through the hazards of liability created by the myriad laws, regulations, and contract issues that may affect their businesses.
If you are concerned that your business may be exposed to liability, need assistance ensuring your business decisions and practices will not result in liability, or are confronted with litigation, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
Severance packages often require careful considering of legal rights.
Our offices can assist employers in drafting agreements that are specifically tailored to achieve the maximum benefit to the client. Businesses employing “one-size-fits-all” severance agreements are likely costing themselves money. By specifically tailoring severance agreements to fit your specific need our offices can make sure that you are not exposing your business to unnecessary liability, or overcompensating departing employees.
Our offices can assist employees in determining how their rights may be impacted by signing severance agreements. Whether to sign a severance agreement or not often requires careful consideration of employment laws, regulations, and contracts, the circumstances of the employment departure, and the history of employment.
If you have received a severance agreement and would like to have it reviewed by a qualified attorney please do not hesitate to contact our offices.