Employment & Labor

It’s a Friday in the middle of summer. So, approximately half of your workforce called off today due to an FMLA-related absence. [Well, not really, but I’m not that far off, amirite?] Take heart. At least you’re not the City of Chicago. As reported this week by the City’s Inspector General, three employees in the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications all took FMLA leave at the same time for various co-called ailments. Instead of laying up on the couch and recuperating, however, the employees took the first plane they could out of Chicago and headed down to…
Synopsis: Illinois WC Death Claim Bungled and Employer Penalized.   Editor’s comment: Please consider asking the defense team at KCB&A or me about any IL/IN/WI/IA or MI death claim/concern you might have. I have handled dozens of such significant claims and I know the ropes backward and forward. Getting a newbie defense attorney to handle these multimillion dollars risks who doesn’t know the ropes can cost thousands of unneeded claims dollars. If you aren’t sure, my law partner Shawn Biery’s IL WC Rate Chart outlines most IL WC Death claims are worth $700K+ to a widow/widower and can be over…
Purchasing and flying a drone might seem like either a fun diversion or a new way of doing business.  Professionals who do photography and videography, agriculture, weather forecasting, and increasingly construction are putting drones to commercial use, while they’re being piloted for package delivery through companies like Amazon and UPS. Legal issues regarding flying of drones. Whatever use you have in mind for a drone, make sure you fully investigate federal, state and local laws on the subject, starting with those handed down a few years ago by the Federal Aviation Administration. For starters, drones being used for commercial purposes…
Before getting started on the blog of the week, some housekeeping matters. First, my blog was late this week. My daughter came home from camp on Monday, and so my time is different than it usually is. Second, starting tomorrow, my family will be in Chicago visiting both sides of the family. So, no blog entry this coming week. Today’s blog entry talks about the FSMB (Federation of State Medical Boards), and their policy on physician impairments, here, which are typically applied to medical licensing boards and to PHPs. By way of full disclosure, I have consulted on cases involving…
On July 10, 2019, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed legislation that permits state universities to use public-private partnerships (also known as “P3s”) to deliver projects on their campuses.  Specifically, the law will allow a higher-education institution to enter into “a long-term concession with a private developer to construct, operate, maintain, and finance the project in exchange for annual payments subject to abatement for nonperformance.”[i] Around the nation, public universities have been turning more and more to the private sector to design, build, finance, operate, or maintain various projects.  P3s have allowed state colleges to build, renovate, or maintain student…
Undoubtedly, 2019 has been a year of change for Illinois employers, as businesses grapple with new minimum wages, legalized cannabis use, and a bevy of other legislative updates. Those changes are expected to continue, as the state legislature recently passed a comprehensive new anti-harassment bill, which is currently awaiting Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature. SB 75  includes several impactful provisions, some of which are outlined below. Yearly Sexual Harassment Training Requirements The bill requires all employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) will be tasked with developing a model training program…
Synopsis: Understanding the HIPAA Battlefield in Work Comp. Editor’s comment: I read a great blog from a Chicago-area Claimant attorney on what he asserts are the rights and rules relating to HIPAA in WC claims. To paraphrase, he indicates under workers’ compensation law, your employer or their insurance company has a “right” to medical records related to your injury. As a result, it’s very common after a worker gets hurt for them to get a letter that asks the worker to sign [and return] a “medical release form” that authorizes them to have access to your medical records. The blogger…
Synopsis: Holy Smokes—IL Appellate Court Rules FELA Damages for Lost Wages Are Now Taxable Income!!! Will WC Benefits/Settlements Follow?   Editor’s comment: In Munoz v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co, No. 1-17-1009, issued June 28, 2019, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District considered a claim by a railroad freight conductor claiming negligence for injuries during his work at a RR conductor. A jury awarded him $821,000, including $310,000 for past and future lost wages. After the verdict, Norfolk moved for a setoff, claiming Munoz owed taxes on the lost wages under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) (I.R.C. § 3201…
New York City Adds “Sexual and Reproductive Health Decisions” as a Protected Class In December 2018 the New York City Council passed legislation adding “sexual and reproductive health decisions” to the list of protected classes under the City’s Human Rights Law. As NYC employers are already aware, the New York City Human Rights Law is the primary local law in NYC protecting individuals against discrimination and harassment on the basis of, among other things, their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, caregiver status or national origin. In the words of the law’s sponsor, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, the law’s purpose…
Question:        I personally realized a large capital gain from the sale of my stock.  Can I avoid or defer the gain by reinvesting some or all of the sale proceeds in a qualified opportunity zone investment? Answer:          A new trilogy of tax benefits are provided by the Federal government for those willing to make long-term investments in economically-distressed community areas.  The tax on the capital gain itself can be deferred for a number of years. Further, the amount of the capital gain which ultimately will be taxed can be reduced. Finally, the appreciation in the qualified opportunity zone investment itself…
Remember when I told you a few months ago that employers can and should consider requiring that employees make two calls to request FMLA leave? For instance, you might require one call to the supervisor to report the absence, and a second call to Human Resources (or your third party administrator) to request FMLA leave. All good, right? Weeeeeeell, let me share a cautionary tale for those who have implemented or are contemplating this two-call requirement, cause one little ‘ol federal court just threw us a curve ball. The Facts LaShondra was employed at a local Burger King restaurant,…
When your game-changing idea is shaking up established industries and attracting customers left and right, protecting that idea, is probably high on your list. So how do you prevent your trade secrets—and your database of clients—from falling into the wrong hands? Many companies rely on a non-compete agreement. Also known as a covenant not to compete, the document states that your employees will not start a competing business or work for a competitor for a specific period of time after they leave your company. While these agreements may seem like a good idea, they’ve been roundly lambasted for being unfair—and…
Synopsis: Good News and Bad News for the IL Work Comp Community.   Editor’s comment: Both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago are in the news and it is certain to be notable for all of my readers. I hate to start with the bad news but we are all grown ups and have to deal with all of it.   Starting in a week on July 1, 2019, our IL gas tax will double, driving the cost of a tank of gas up 19 cents a gallon. This money is supposedly ear-marked for “capital improvements” of…
The unemployment rate hovered at a 49-year low of 3.6 percent in both April and May of 2019.  Low unemployment typically creates a jobseeker’s market in which workers find plentiful attractive job openings.  On the other side of the equation, however, employers usually have a more difficult time locating highly qualified candidates well-suited to the employer’s workplace culture. Both smart and lawful hiring and recruiting practices have more importance when employers face fewer candidates and more competition to hire them present in a tight labor market.  In such circumstances, employers must think strategically to recruit the best candidates.  Many employers…
SUPREME COURT RULES LAW PROHIBITING REGISTRATION OF IMMORAL OR SCANDALOUS TRADEMARKS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL Only two years ago, in the case of In re Tam, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the federal law (the Lanham Act) that prohibited registration of “disparaging” marks violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.  This week, in the case of Iancu v. Brunetti, the Court ruled that the provisions of the same law that prohibited registration of “scandalous” and “immoral” marks, was also unconstitutional.  So why is this important? Under the Lanham Act, the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) administers a federal registration system for…
Today, I am off to Dallas Texas. While there, I will be doing two different webinars with my colleague and foil Richard Hunt. The webinars can be found here and here. So, this is my blog entry for the week. With respect to next week’s blog entry, absolutely no doubt that it will be blogging on the imminent decision in Kisor v. Wilkie. Also, on the horizon, blogging on some books put out by the American Bar Association related to what I do. This blog entry talks about one of those books. As everyone knows, Richard and I frequently…