Emery Law, Ltd.

Emery Law is a boutique litigation firm servicing our clients’ needs in and around the Chicagoland area. We’ve worked for federal judges and trained at the largest law firms in the world, but our small-firm approach ensures that our clients get the individual attention they deserve without the expensive overhead.

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Employees presented with a severance agreement should be aware of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision with significant implications. In a February 2023 ruling, the Board deemed confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions in severance agreements unlawful when presented to employees protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The NLRB reasoned that these provisions stifle employees’ exercise of their rights under Section 7, which guarantees workers the right to self-organize, form labor unions, bargain collectively, engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and refrain from any or all of such
Continue Reading NLRB Throws Shade on Confidentiality, Non-disparagement Clauses in Severance Agreements

In a major victory for workers’ rights, the Chicago City Council has approved an ordinance that will guarantee all workers in the city at least 10 days of paid leave annually. This is a significant expansion of the current paid leave policy, which only requires employers to provide five days of paid sick leave.

The new ordinance took effect on January 1, 2024. Workers will earn one hour of paid leave and paid sick leave for every 35 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours per year for each type of leave. Five of these days can be used
Continue Reading Chicago Workers to Gain Significant Paid Leave Benefits

In 2022, Illinois significantly restricted the use of non-compete agreements with the passage of the Freedom to Work Act. The Act prohibits non-compete agreements for workers earning less than $75,000 per year (adjusted upwards every five years, capped at $90,000 per year beginning on January 1, 2037), prohibits non-solicitation agreements for workers earning less than $45,000 per year (again, adjusted every five years), requires certain notices to accompany non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, and restricts the use of such agreements for many COVID-related layoffs and for most construction workers and for public workers or educators covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Continue Reading Illinois Freedom to Work Act – Are Non-Competes On Their Way Out?

The state of Illinois has recently passed a new employment law, known as the Illinois All Workers Act, which provides greater protections for workers across the state. The purpose of the law is to address the growing need for fair and just treatment of workers, regardless of their job classification or status as an independent contractor. The law went into effect in 2023 and provides new rights and benefits for workers in Illinois.

One of the key provisions of the Illinois All Workers Act is the requirement that employers provide all workers with a safe and healthy work environment. This
Continue Reading Illinois All Workers Act Provides Greater Protections for Workers

In a pivotal move towards fostering equal opportunity employment, Illinois has taken a bold step by mandating pay transparency in job postings. This groundbreaking amendment to the Illinois Equal Pay Act, signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on August 11, 2023, signifies a significant step in addressing wage disparities and promoting workplace fairness. The new regulation requires employers to disclose salary or wage ranges for positions in job advertisements, a move that promises to reshape hiring practices and contribute to a more equitable job market.

Historically, pay disparities have been a persistent issue, disproportionately affecting women and minorities. The
Continue Reading Illinois Mandates Pay Transparency in Job Postings

Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed the Paid Leave for Workers Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2024.  The Act requires employers to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave and is designed to promote a healthier and more productive workforce by enabling workers to take time off for their own or their family’s health needs without fear of losing pay or their job.

The Act covers employers with at least one employee  and paid leave will accrue at the rate of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked up to a minimum of 40 hours of
Continue Reading The Illinois Paid Leave for Workers Act Allows Employees Leave For Any Reason They Choose

The Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA), which requires employers to provide employees with at least one day of rest per week, has recently been amended. The amendments to the law, which went into effect in 2023, provide greater protection for employees who work more than 40 hours per week and ensure that they receive proper compensation for their overtime hours.

Under the amended law, employers are required to provide employees with written notice of their right to one day of rest per week. This notice must be provided to all new employees at the time of their
Continue Reading Amendments to the Illinois’ One Day Rest in Seven Act Provide Further Employee Protections

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear, in a 6-3 ruling, that federal law, through Title VII, protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The Court held that “Title VII makes it ‘unlawful … for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual … because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” “The straightforward application of Title VII’s terms interpreted in accord … with their ordinary public meaning at the time of their enactment resolves these cases.”

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Title VII Prevents Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Unlawful workplace retaliation can take many forms, and an employee may even have a claim for activity outside of work. For example, as explained by the EEOC in his June 2019 press release, an employer can be liable where it prohibits or otherwise harasses an employee for participating in a Title VII investigation, lawsuit or other proceeding – even if the participation has nothing to do with the employee’s current job.
As explained by the EEOC, the employer in the case at issue sought to prevent its current employee, a coal miner, from testifying in a Title VII (national
Continue Reading Retaliation for Supporting Another’s Claim of Discrimination is Illegal

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (the “IWPCA”) has long provided protections for employees to ensure their employers timely pay them all the compensation they are owed, including, in some cases, personal liability for the person making the decision to withhold compensation. It was recently amended to provide even greater safeguards for employees when it comes to expenses employees may incur in the course of doing their job duties. Effective January 1, 2019, Section 115/9.5 of the IWPCA now requires employers to reimburse employees for “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of
Continue Reading Illinois Law Now Requires Employers to Reimburse Employee Expenses

Over the years, I’ve dealt with a number of what I would call “near” whistleblowers. I say “near” because, while the potential client may have attempted to expose wrongdoing, they failed to do it in a way to bring them within whistleblower status as defined under Illinois law. It can be the ultimate lose-lose for the potential client – they are out of a job because of what they complained about and they do not have a legal path forward as a whistleblower. But it is a scenario that can be avoided.
First things first – in the employment context
Continue Reading Avoiding the Pitfalls of “Near” Whistleblowers

Illinois has previously provided protections for pregnant women in the workplace. For example, the Illinois Human Rights Act has expressly recognized pregnancy as a protected personal characteristic. But now, with the passage of an amendment to the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (the “Act”), Illinois has increased the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace.
Beginning in 2001, Illinois law required employers to provide nursing mothers unpaid lactation breaks in the workplace. But, in its original form, the Act only required “reasonable unpaid break time each day” with those breaks to be, if possible, to be at the
Continue Reading Illinois Now Required Paid Nursing Breaks For At Least One Year

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms and, in Illinois, a large number of personal characteristics are protected and legally actionable under the Illinois Human Rights Act (the “Act”). For example, if your employer has discriminated against you on the basis of your race, skin color, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or pregnancy (among others), you may have the basis to file a “Charge of Discrimination” with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the “IDHR”) – the Illinois governmental department responsible for investigating and otherwise administering the Act.
There are several important changes coming to the Act
Continue Reading Senate Bill 20 will bring major changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act