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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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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The EEOC has filed suit against RJB Properties Inc., of Orland Park, charging that the company discriminated against Hispanic employees because of their national origin, sexually harassed a male employee, and retaliated against employees who objected to the discrimination against Latino employees.

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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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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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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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When an employee is charged with a criminal offense that reflects on his ability to perform his job, many employers suspend or even fire the employee. If he’s acquitted, must he get his job back? Not necessarily.

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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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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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