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Schaumburg employment lawyerWhen you own a company, there are federal, state, and local laws you must follow in order to stay in business. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), U.S. employees have the right to receive a minimum hourly wage, in addition to “time-and-a-half” overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours within a seven-day period. It also prohibits the employment of minors in “oppressive child labor” conditions. If business owners do not adhere to these rules and regulations, then workers may file lawsuits against their employers if they can show that the company is in violation. However, the company can defend against such charges as long as they can prove they did not violate any laws. An experienced employment attorney can help employers with providing this “burden of proof” in Illinois.

Potential Violations

There are several ways that a company can be in violation of FLSA rules, such as not paying its workers at least minimum wage or classifying them as non-exempt or contractors when they should be exempt or salaried. In other cases, upper management may use harassment tactics or discriminatory language to intimidate employees into doing certain tasks. The main areas in which an employer can be sued include:

  • Wages

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Schaumburg, IL employer defense attorneyIn the United States, several measures have been put in place in an effort to prevent discrimination of any kind in the workplace. Workplace discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or prospective employee in a prejudicial manner because of his or her race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or other factors. These prejudices can affect hiring, firing, promotions, salary, benefits, job training, or assignments. If any employee feels like he or she has been discriminated against, he or she has the right to file a complaint and/or a lawsuit against the company, which can result in negative consequences toward the employer.

Types of Discrimination

There are many different aspects that can serve as a basis for discrimination, which is prohibited by law. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), workplace discrimination can be based on:

  • Age: Federal law and Illinois state law prohibit employers from treating employees less favorably because of their age. This law applies to employees who are age 40 or older.

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medical marijuana, Illinois employment law attorneyWith the state’s medical marijuana pilot program now into its fifth month of full-scale operation, employers around Illinois are now faced with tough decisions about the application of drug policies in the workplace. Many business owners are not even sure what the law permits them to do concerning workplace use of medical marijuana by legal, registered patients. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act does provide some useful guidelines, as you might expect, but the law, ultimately, leaves the decision up to you.

Who Are Registered Users?

Since the program began—officially in January 2014, but not in practice until November of last year—patients suffering from about three dozen specified medical conditions have been applying to participate. Qualifying conditions include HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s diseases, fibromyalgia and many more. Those who have been approved are permitted to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from state-sanctioned dispensaries, and, if they remain within the parameters set by the program, are exempt from prosecution for possession and use. Registered users are not immune from prosecution for behavior while impaired, such as driving under the influence.

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Posted on in Employment Discrimination

avoiding employee lawsuits, Illinois employment law attorneyA business owner never hires an employee expecting to be sued. Employment agreements are based on trust that both the employer and employee will act in accordance with the best interest of the company while adhering to all applicable laws. Over time, however, even the best employment-based relationships can break down, and in an ever-increasingly litigious environment, it is all too common for a disgruntled worker to file a lawsuit against the business owner.

Of course, many such lawsuits may be groundless to the point of frivolity, but they still require time, attention, and money to defend. While there may be no way to prevent frivolous litigation, there are some things a business owner can do to make sure neither employees nor the government have legitimate grounds upon which to file suit.

Non-Exempt Until Proven Otherwise

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Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., one of the largest privately-held companies in the world, has agreed to settle with the U.S. Department of Labor and pay $2.24 million for allegations of sex-based, race-based, and ethnicity-based discrimination in the company’s hiring practices. The settlement will be paid to 2,959 applicants who were discriminated against at three meat-processing plants during the hiring process for production jobs between 2005 through 2009.

  discrimination in the workplace IMAGEThe meat-processing plant in Springdale, Arkansas discriminated against female applicants, the plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado affected female, Caucasian and Hispanic applicants, and the plant based in Beardstown, Illinois discriminated against African-American and Caucasian applicants. Cargill’s Senior Vice President made a statement stating that Cargill does not employ discriminatory hiring practices, and that the reason for settlement was to avoid lengthy litigation and any cost or disruptions associated with the action. The settlement amount represents back wages and interest owed to the applicants affected and as part of the agreement, Cargill has agreed to provide 354 jobs to the affected applicants as positions open up within the plants.  Employment Law Settlements

This type of settlement, especially as applied to one of the largest, privately-held corporations in the world, represents a significant win in the employment discrimination field. Having a large corporation at the forefront of an employment discrimination scandal forces other major corporations to reassess the way that they hire potential applicants. The U.S. Department of Labor may want to use Cargill as an example, proving to similar, major corporations that they cannot discriminate just because they have a significant profit margin.

 Employment discrimination can be one of the most difficult legal issues to prove, and without significant, analytical data demonstrating a disparity in hiring and firing practices, discrimination may continue leaving potential applicants unprotected and without standing to bring a claim. Discriminatory Practices in Pre-Employment Inquiries

As seen in the recent settlement with Cargill, discrimination can occur at all levels, especially in the hiring practices of big companies. When an applicant goes into an interview, it is important that he or she listen closely and carefully for the types of questions that the interviewer might ask. It is not uncommon for interviewers to word a question that may come across as innocuous, but the answer may provide specific information that may be the basis for discrimination. The EEOC has put out a Guide to Pre-Employment Inquiries which provide a rough outline as to questions that are allowable or may potentially be discriminatory:

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