Employment Law

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There’s whistle-blowing and then there’s setting up one’s employer for a lawsuit. Genuine whistle-blowers are protected from retaliation. Those looking to make a quick buck are not.
Q. We are aware that the Illinois Civil Union Act is in effect. Could you please tell us more about it?
Q. We recently hired a deaf employee who communicates exclusively by written notes. We are finding that this process is time-consuming and harms productivity. May we require the deaf worker and his supervisor to learn sign language? Can we terminate them if they refuse?

In January, the National Labor Relations Board held that employers may not require employees to sign arbitration agreements that waive their rights to bring class or collective actions. The D.R. Horton decision will probably be appealed. In the meantime, however, the ruling holds important implications for employers.

Q. How does the Illinois Religious Freedom Pro­­tec­­tion and Civil Union Act affect health benefits?
Printing company SpeQtrum Pre­­press Production Services faces 14 serious safety and health violations and one other-than-serious violation following an OSHA inspection of its facility in Euless. Proposed penalties add up to $44,800.
Mount Carroll-based Haasbach LLC has resolved 25 OSHA citations stemming from the deaths of two young workers at its grain bin facility.
The Indian Beach-Salter Path Fire Department faces $10,838 in fines after state OSHA inspectors learned that firefighters had removed 120 ceiling tiles that contained asbestos from a mobile home a citizen had donated for use in the department’s training program.
Austin-based information technology firm HBMG and its president, Manuel Zarate, have agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the company failed to transfer employee retirement fund contributions into its 401(k) program.
Here’s a tip that doesn’t cost anything to implement and may prevent a lawsuit: When employees return from an illness, medical leave or other absences, make them feel welcome—and don’t publicly focus on any lingering problems.
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