Employment law can include a variety of legal issues between an employee and employer. Employment law can be complicated in Illinois, and the laws are always changing. This makes it very important to have an experienced lawyer on your side, with a history of successfully representing their clients to get what they deserve.
Both employees and employers may find themselves in need of an experienced employment law attorney. Employees may have been unlawfully fired, or not properly compensated by their employer. An employer may have terminated an underperforming employee only to be faced with an employment discrimination lawsuit. By contacting a lawyer early on, or before problems arise, you may be able to save yourself the time and money of a long and costly lawsuit to bring your problem to a resolution.
Employment Law Issues
Employment law cases may involve state law, federal law, or a combination of local and federal issues. There are usually overlapping terms involved between legal statutes and protections, and negotiated terms of an employment contract. Some of the common areas of employer/employee disputes include:
- Employment Discrimination;
- Workplace Investigations;
- Wrongful Termination;
- Fair Pay Laws;
- Workers' Compensation;
- Unemployment Benefits;
- Non-Compete Clauses;
- Age Discrimination;
- Contract Negotiations;
- Workplace Injury;
- Family and Medical Leave; and
- Workplace Safety.
Illinois also has a number of laws governing employment law under the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL). The Fair Labor Standards Division covers things like minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and temporary worker regulations. The Conciliation and Mediation Division deals with whistleblower cases and equal pay laws. The legal division handles Freedom of Information Act requests, personnel records, and workplace privacy laws. There are also state workplace safety laws covered by the Occupational Safety & Health Act. However, employment discrimination issues are not handled by the IDOL, but instead are handled by the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
Illinois is an “at-will” employment state. This means that either the employer or employee may terminate their relationship with the other at any time, even without any cause or reason. However, if the employer terminates the employee for a discriminatory reason based on a protected status, they may have broken the law. Taken together, an employee has rights when their employer is breaking the law, and vice versa.
Family and Medical Leave
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for family and medical reasons. This includes the birth or adoption of a child, a serious illness, or to care for a spouse, child or parent. During this time, the FMLA provides for your job protection during the time you are away.
Unpaid Wages and Overtime
An employer cannot reduce your rate of pay unless your are notified before doing the work. An employer must also pay wages at least semi-monthly, no later than 13 days after the end of the pay period. If the employer or employee terminates the relationship, the employer must make all compensation, including payment for bonuses, vacation pay and commission on the next regularly scheduled payday.
An employer cannot withhold wages for unreturned tools, uniforms, or employer owned equipment. Unless you sign an agreement, the employer cannot take your pay to cover cash shortages, or for damages to company equipment or property. Any deductions from employee wages should be accompanied by an itemized statement of the deductions for the pay period.
Most employees are covered by the Illinois minimum wage and overtime laws. Employers must pay employees the minimum wage, and time and a half pay for any work over 40 hours in a workweek. However, some employees engaged in work like agricultural labor, certain commissioned employees, or car salesmen may be exempt from overtime pay.
Some employers take advantage of employees by promising them wages, and failing to pay the money after the work is done. For some temporary workers or day laborers, they may think they have no recourse because they don't know who the employer was, or there was no evidence of a contract or agreement. However, the law protects workers, and an employment law attorney will be able to help you get the wages you were promised, and make sure the dishonest employer does not keep doing the same thing.
Equal Pay Act
Under the Illinois Equal Pay Act, employers who have four or more employees are prohibited for paying men and women unequal wages for doing the same or substantially similar work. There are exceptions where the payment is based on seniority or on factors other than gender. A man or woman is protected even if they have a different title, so long as they do the same or substantially similar work for the same employer, in the same county.
Under OSHA requirements, an employer is required to fix all serious hazards identified by an Illinois On-Site Safety and Health consultant, within a reasonable time. In some cases, the consultant may have to conduct a follow-up visit to verify that the corrections have been made.
If an employee believes there is a serious hazard, and their employer has not addressed the issue, the employee may file an OSHA complaint or request an OSHA inspection. An employee is protected from being fired, demoted or discriminated against by their employer for filing an OSHA complaint.
Employment Law Damages
There may be a variety of remedies available in an employment law case. This may include financial damages including unpaid wages, restitution and additional punitive damages. Punitive damages act as a penalty to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar discrimination in the future. Another possible remedy could include reinstatement by the employer or other reasonable accommodation between the employee and employer.
Employment Law Attorneys
If you suspect that you were fired, denied a raise or passed over for a promotion because of discrimination, a workplace safety complaint, or because you took leave to care for a sick loved one, you should speak with an experienced attorney who understands Illinois employment law. If you are an employer facing a lawsuit or problem employee, contacting an employment law attorney will help protect your assets and your business. Our attorneys have successfully handled employment law cases for employees and employers in Peoria and throughout the state of Illinois. Contact your experienced Illinois employment law attorneys at Benassi & Benassi. We are committed to getting our clients the justice they deserve.