Employment & Labor

Ordinarily, this column explores legal avenues available to protect the interests of independent sales reps, the willingness of courts to travel down such avenues, or both. Sometimes, however, developing an appropriate legal theory and filing a lawsuit (or arbitration demand) can prove the easy part. As experienced litigants know, it is in the discovery process — the obtaining of written or electronic information and witness testimony — where cases are usually won or lost. So rather than focus on the commission recovery theories, this edition of “Legally Speaking” examines a very recent and not atypical judicial look at certain litigation…
The threshold for white-collar employees to be classifiable as “exempt” will rise about 50% to $684 per week (about $35,568 per year) on January 1, 2020. Employers will need to make adjustments to ensure they’re compliant with this updated rule, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, announced on September 24 by the U.S. Department of Labor.  By “exempt” I am referring to employees who do not qualify for overtime pay. The rule change—which boosts the threshold from $455 per week and $23,600 per year, as previously set in 2004—will affect about 1.3 million workers, the DOL says, who could be…
I recently had the privilege of presenting at the Georgia ADA Coordinators conference held at the Georgia aquarium. In the room that I presented in, it ran right up against the beluga whales exhibit. There were times when I would look around the room, and I would see a couple of beluga whales staring at me. Kind of cool and weird at the same time. I had the opportunity to present on effective communications as well as be a co-panelist for an excellent presentation by Cheryl Frazier of the Georgia ADA Coordinator’’s office’s office on transition plans and self-evaluation plans.…
November 11, 2019:   Litigation Attorney Thalia Pacheco obtained dismissal of a fraud and rescission lawsuit filed against our client in the Circuit Court of McHenry County, Illinois.  The lawsuit arose out of the sale of an expensive piece of machinery to a Wichita, Kansas-based company by our client, an outstanding Illinois seller of machinery.  The lawsuit, which sought punitive damages, compensatory damages, and attorney fees, was dismissed less than a year after being filed.…
November 10, 2019:  Employment lawyer David Fish was interviewed on ABC regarding the impact of legalization of marijuana/cannibas in the workplace.   Click here for the interview with ABC’s Judy Hsu. Can I Be Fired For Using Marijuana In Illinois? Significant changes to the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (820 ILCS 55, the “Privacy in the Workplace Act”) and the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the “Cannabis Act”, 410 ILCS 705) are coming January 1, 2020.  This article discusses these laws and the impact on marijuana in the workplace. Pursuant to the Privacy in the Workplace Act,…
Can I Be Fired For Using Marijuana In Illinois? Significant changes to the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (820 ILCS 55, the “Privacy in the Workplace Act”) and the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the “Cannabis Act”, 410 ILCS 705) are coming January 1, 2020.  This article discusses these laws and the impact on marijuana in the workplace. Pursuant to the Privacy in the Workplace Act, it is “unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to discharge any individual [or to disadvantage as to compensation or terms of employment] because the individual uses lawful products…
I spend a decent part of my day reviewing FMLA forms, certification and correspondence. Exhilarating, for sure.  When it comes to FMLA notices, do you care hear about one of my big pet peeves?  [You: Not really interested, Jeff, but we have the feeling you’re going to tell us anyway.] It’s an issue that the far majority of employers and third-party administrators seem to violate all day, every day. What Do I See? In FMLA designation notices, or in correspondence approving FMLA leave, employers and TPAs invariably state something to the effect of “This leave is approved through [a specific…
Synopsis: Runaway and Shocking Retaliatory Discharge Verdict—What Do You Learn From It?   Editor’s comment: Dean Foods was ordered to pay more than $3 million in punitive damages as a result of a retaliatory discharge lawsuit filed by former employee/Plaintiff Jankowski, who alleged retaliation and discrimination against the milk processing facility.   According to a news release from the Wheaton-based Coffey Law Office, which represents Jankowski, a jury found Defendant Dean Foods retaliated against Jankowski by refusing to recall him back to work from August 2014 up until his termination after Jankowski had suffered an injury on the job and then refused…
The new Illinois laws legalizing cannabis has a benefit to old stoners – expungement of criminal records. Among the several provisions of the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act which takes effect on January 1 are provisions that include some dramatic criminal justice reforms.  The most important of these provisions are the expungement provisions for certain past cannabis-related criminal convictions. Illinois laws now permit expungement of prior cannabis related crimes. The new laws provide for an expedited and automatic expungement[1] procedure for convictions of cannabis related crimes which (1) involved less than 30 grams of cannabis and (2) did…
U.S. DOL Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking On November 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would make it easier for some employers to apply the “Fluctuating Workweek” method of calculating overtime pay for certain non-exempt employees. Background For those not familiar with the concept, the fluctuating workweek method is one way of calculating overtime pay for non-exempt employees who are paid a fixed salary but whose hours fluctuate from week to week. The fluctuating workweek method can be extremely advantageous for employers because it allows an employer to pay a non-exempt employee a fixed…
Chain’s Decision Reminds Boards, Executives, Workplace Dating Fraught With Risk Like many HR staff, we’re pouring another cup of coffee while we Monday morning quarterback the weekend’s news from McDonald’s that the board ousted CEO Steve Easterbrook for conducting what is described in the press as a “consensual relationship” in the workplace. The board asked for Easterbrook’s resignation despite his success leading a turnaround after disappointing financial returns in 2015. McDonald’s Chief People Officer also left the company for undisclosed reasons. Why HR Struggles With Workplace Dating What difficulties does workplace dating impose on organizations and what are the particular…
Before getting started on the blog entry of the week, I want to congratulate the Washington Nationals on their World Series victory where for the first time, a road team won every single game. Congratulations. I will be very curious to see whether the Washington nationals go to the White House. As everyone knows, a lot of professional sport teams are handling that different ways. Turning to the blog entry of the week, on October 29, 2019, the Seventh Circuit decided here Shell v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company. I have previously blogged on that case here. So,…
Question: I loaned a sizeable sum to my daughter to enable her to purchase a residence.  While I expect to be repaid, there is no specific time for repayment and no interest will be paid on the loan.  What are the tax consequences of this arrangement? Answer: Persons who make non-interest bearing loans face various tax consequences.  The borrower of a non-interest bearing loan is treated as having made interest payments to the lender computed based on IRS-prescribed interest rates in effect from time to time, the Applicable Federal Rate.  The lender, in turn, is treated as having retransferred the…
We filed a proposed class action lawsuit against a company named Just Brands concerning its JustCBD product of CBD gummy candies.   The lawsuit alleges that our client relied upon the packaging on the label that says there is   “No THC”.   We are interested in hearing from others about their experience with CBD products and whether they impacted employment drug tests, specifically, whether a drug test came up positive for THC. Also, if you have purchased a JustCBD product, or any CBD product that had a label regarding THC, please let us know your experience with it.…
It’s always cool to see positive media articles about clients. So, I’m especially pleased to post this article from yesterday’s Chicago Tribune about Necessary and Sufficient cafe in Chicago. Kate became a client of mine after attending a few of my City Hall presentations & asking me some difficult questions. Cozy coffee shop with a walk-up window opens in Logan Square, plus more Chicago restaurant news By  CHICAGO TRIBUNE | OCT 30, 2019 | 12:00 PM Necessary and Sufficient is a woman-owned coffee shop in Logan Square. (Grace Wong / Chicago Tribune) When Kate Vrijmoet first moved to Chicago, she started…
As I mentioned last week, I have a whole bunch of cases to blog on my pipeline. It took me quite a bit to decide on what to blog on. Ultimately, I decided to blog on Doe v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, a decision that came down from the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama on October 22, 2019. I seriously debated whether I should blog on this at all because my colleague, Robin Shea, in her excellent blog, which is in my blog roll, beat me to it here. Her blog entry is…