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Schaumburg minimum wage violations lawyerLaws are established for various reasons, mainly to keep citizens safe and provide for a fair society. The state of Illinois has several new laws taking effect in 2021, one of which affects employers and their employees. The minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour for standard workers; $6.60 per hour for tipped workers, and $8.50 per hour for workers under the age of 18 who work less than 650 hours in a calendar year. This new legislation is part of a staggered plan that will eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. However, many retailers have expressed concern that they cannot afford this new hourly rate after struggling to stay open during the pandemic. Whether you own a small start-up or a well-established company, it is important to understand the legal consequences for hourly wage violations in Illinois.

A Gradual Increase

Although the wage rate increase for 2021 is meant to assist the entire Illinois workforce, it will gradually increase depending on what part of the state you live in. On July 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Chicago will increase to $15 per hour, or $14.50 per hour for employees at companies with 20 or fewer employees. The minimum wage for tipped workers will increase to $9.00 per hour, and employers are required to make up the difference if the base wage plus tips does not equal $15.00 per hour.

Penalties for Wage Violations

All employers have an obligation to know the minimum wage laws and are required to post the Fair Labor Standards Act provisions in a place where workers can easily read them. If a company pays a worker less than what is mandated by federal minimum wage laws, or neglects to adhere to overtime pay guidelines, the employer may be required to go to court and face maximum penalties. The Wage Payment and Collection Act issued by the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) designates when, where, and how often wages are to be paid and prohibits deductions from wages or compensation without a worker’s consent. It is important to note that federal and state government employees are considered exempt and therefore cannot file claims under the Act.

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Schaumburg small business lawyerPresident Trump signed a new stimulus bill into law just after Christmas, releasing another $900 billion in stimulus funds into the economy and preventing a government shutdown. The government would have shut down just before the new year if the President had not taken action. In addition to containing money to fund government operations, the spending package also includes emergency relief money that finances a new round of stimulus checks, unemployment aid, and small business assistance. A qualified employment attorney can help you learn how this new legislation may apply to you and your company, possibly saving your livelihood during this unprecedented time.

Financial Assistance for Struggling Businesses

The new deal from Congress will deliver approximately $900 billion in relief funds in an effort to help families and businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this round of stimulus checks issued by the U.S. government, Americans will receive up to $600 per person for those earning $75,000 or less per year in addition to $600 for each minor dependent. This is similar to the country’s initial stimulus package months prior.

The relief package also includes an extension of unemployment insurance and a federal unemployment insurance bonus of $300 per week. The economic fallout due to the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted small businesses in 2020. In response, Congress has allocated an additional $284 billion in loans for those business owners who are struggling to issue paychecks and cover their business’ rent.

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Illinois employment lawyerEmployment law is complex and can include many different types of lawsuits, including class action and collective action lawsuits. A class action lawsuit is a single lawsuit that is taken to court to represent a group of employees who have all experienced the same alleged actions taken by the employer. A class action lawsuit is typically used when it would be impractical to take each individual case to court. Instead, an attorney or a group of attorneys is used to represent all employees who are involved in the lawsuit. Protecting yourself as a business is extremely important if you find yourself the target of a class action employment lawsuit.

What Is the Difference Between a Class Action and Collective Action Lawsuit?

These two types of lawsuits are similar to each other, though they do differ in a few ways. In a class action lawsuit, one employee can file a lawsuit for everyone who works for the same company. Once the court grants permission for the case to proceed, all of the employees included in the lawsuit will be notified of their ability to “opt-out” or not participate in the lawsuit.

In a collective action lawsuit, employees who want to participate in the lawsuit have to sign a legal document to “opt-in” or agree to participate in the suit. In a class action lawsuit, all employees are automatically considered to be part of the class unless they specifically state they do not want to be.

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Illinois employment lawyerSometimes there are situations in which an employee is unable to work because of personal health issues or those of a family member. Many people worry that taking extensive time off from work will cause them to lose their job or face repercussions when they get back to work. Fortunately, the United States government has enacted what is called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act helps millions of Americans get the time off they need without having to worry about unfair treatment from their employers.

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

Enacted in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows certain employees of covered employers to take unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons. Under the FMLA, it is illegal for employers to retaliate or to demote a person for taking leave covered under the act. Under certain situations, employers are permitted to require their employees to use accrued paid leave, such as sick leave or vacation.

Covered Employers and Eligible Employees

There are certain criteria employers must meet in order to be subject to the FMLA. Employers covered by the FMLA include:

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wrongful termination in Illinois, Illinois employer defense attorneyLike many states, Illinois is an “at-will” employment state. In simple terms, at-will means that, unless there is a specific agreement in place, employment may be terminated by either the employer or employee at any time, without advance notice, and for almost any reason or no reason at all. Employment contracts, employee handbooks, and verbal promises may create exceptions to an at-will arrangement, and situations may still arise in which an employee was wrongfully terminated.

According to Illinois law, it is illegal to fire an employee on the basis of certain protected characteristics. Among others, such characteristics include race, religion, gender, nationality, and disability. In order to be considered a wrongful termination, however, the employee must be completely terminated from the company. Demotions or pay decreases based on illegal discrimination are not considered under Illinois labor laws. Instead, such cases may be investigated by the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

A wrongful termination suit may also be pursued if the firing violated public policy. Retaliatory termination for whistle-blowing or filing a good faith workers’ compensation claim are examples of public policy violations. Other public policies may not be so clearly defined and may be considered based on the individual circumstances of the case.

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