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UPDATE: What Are the Penalties for Minimum Wage Violations in Illinois?

Posted on in Employee Rights

Schaumburg employment lawyer

Originally Published: 21 July 2020 -- Updated: July 7, 2021

On July 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Chicago became $15-an-hour. For servers and other workers who receive tips, the minimum wage is $9-an-hour. In Cook County, the minimum wage is $13-an-hour for regular employees and $6.60 for workers who receive tips. The state minimum wage in Illinois is currently $11-an-hour with a $1 increase scheduled to take effect January 1 of next year. By 2025, workers in Illinois are all set to receive $15-an-hour.

Reactions to the current and proposed wage increases have been mixed. Workers are thrilled, but many employers are concerned about how the new minimum wage law will impact their business. If you are an employer in Illinois, it is crucial that you stay updated on wage laws. Failure to adhere to minimum wage increases can lead to significant legal and financial consequences.


Illinois employers must meet certain regulations set forth by the federal and local governments to operate. These include safety protocols to ensure a safe and secure working environment, as well as a minimum wage amount paid to employees. On July 1, 2020, the Illinois minimum wage was set to $10.00 per hour for those workers who are age 18 or older. For jobs in which gratuities are paid to employees, such as in restaurants, an employer is allowed to pay 60 percent of the minimum wage to its workers. In addition, overtime must be paid after 40 hours of work per week. When companies violate any of these employment laws, they can face legal consequences.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a U.S. labor law that gives workers the right to a minimum wage, and “time-and-a-half” overtime pay after working over 40 hours a week. It also prohibits the employment of minors in “oppressive” work conditions. FLSA has four main components:

  • Minimum wage

  • Overtime pay

  • Recordkeeping methods

  • Child labor provisions

It is important to note that there are exceptions to the minimum wage rule, as certain employers may apply for special licenses to pay below-minimum rates to apprentices and workers with specific physical or mental limitations.

Legal Consequences for Violations

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for enforcing FLSA rules by investigating employers to make sure they are complying with the regulations. If it is found that an employer is in violation, the WHD may recommend certain actions that the employer can take to be in compliance. Laws for penalties vary widely from state to state. For example, the statute of limitations in Illinois is one year for intentional violations, while other states go up to six years.

Legal remedies exist for employees, which allow them to reclaim back wages for overtime or minimum wage discrepancies in addition to an equal amount for liquidated damages. In Illinois, for instance, a worker is entitled to unpaid wages plus 2 percent for each month that he or she was underpaid. Wage and hour violations can occur in any type of industry, but they tend to be more frequent with lower-earning workers, females, immigrants, and younger employees.

Contact a Schaumburg Employment Lawyer

Illinois companies must keep up to date on important changes to legislation, including wages. As an employer defense attorney, Attorney Richard J. Miller represents small- to mid-sized businesses. With his prior experience and financial background knowledge gained from working with successful companies, he understands how to resolve your legal concerns about wage violations. At Miller Law Firm, P.C., our accomplished Illinois employment law attorneys will fight for your rights to achieve the best possible outcome and preserve your business and your livelihood. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 847-995-1205.


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