The HR Specialist: Illinois Employment Law

Employees whose disabilities require reasonable accommodations in the form of breaks or a modified schedule don’t get to save their FMLA leave for later use. Employers are free to subtract the time off from any FMLA hours available.

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A good sick leave policy includes rules governing how employees are supposed to let their employers know that they’re ill. Employees generally have to follow those rules or face discipline. But there are circumstances under which employees may be excused from following the rules. One of those exceptions: when the employer has direct notice that the employee is ill and may need FMLA leave.

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Illinois ranks right in the middle of the nationwide pack when it comes to the per capita tax rate its citizens paid in 2009, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. Illinois ranked 27th in state per capita taxes in 2009, dropping one slot from 26th in 2008.

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Illinois ranks right in the middle of the nationwide pack when it comes to the per capita tax rate its citizens paid in 2009, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. Illinois ranked 27th in state per capita taxes in 2009, dropping one slot from 26th in 2008.

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Employees can’t win age discrimination lawsuits based solely on an offhand remark referring to an employee’s age. That’s because, unlike many other forms of employment discrimination, age discrimination cases require employees to prove that age was the reason for termination or some other negative employment action. Unless there’s more evidence, a mere comment isn’t enough.

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According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois gained 12,000 union jobs last year, and the rate of union membership jumped almost a full percentage point, from 16.6% in 2008 to 17.5% in 2009. Illinois is bucking the nation’s broader union job loss trend. Nationwide, union jobs took a proportionately bigger hit during the economic downturn than nonunion jobs did.

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Some disabled employees go to great lengths to hide their conditions—perhaps out of pride or fear that they’ll be discriminated against. They may look long and hard for a perfect job that allows them to work without any sort of accommodation. But what happens if the disabled employee who has, in effect, managed to secretly “self-accommodate” is moved to another position? Can she request that she move back to her old, perfect position?

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Some employees quit and then argue that they had no choice but to do so. This is known as “constructive discharge.” Such a claim can succeed in court if the employee can show that working conditions became so intolerable that quitting was the only reasonable response. But an employee can’t quit and claim constructive discharge just because he’s facing potential disciplinary action.

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Gonnella Bakery has settled with Mexican workers at its plant in Aurora who claimed they were harassed because of their national origin. The workers said one manager often made derogatory comments about Mexican workers and consistently assigned them more difficult duties and work schedules.

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Under many federal employment laws, employees don’t have to be fired to sue for wrongful termination. Instead, they can claim constructive discharge, alleging they had no choice but to quit. But that argument won’t fly for employees who try to sue their Illinois employers for common-law wrongful termination.

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