The HR Specialist: Illinois Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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The HR Specialist: Illinois Employment Law

You’re probably aware that, generally, you should issue the same discipline to everyone who breaks the same rule. But that isn’t always the case. As long as you can explain why one employee deserved harsher punishment, a judge probably won’t second-guess you.

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Plenty of employees have chips on their shoulders. Some are hypersensitive to perceived slights and constructive criticism. Others get angry over minor problems. Acting out has long been regarded as insubordination and grounds for discipline, including termination.

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A federal court has ordered the owner of Elmhurst-based ABD Tank & Pump Co. to repay $2.7 million that was illegally skimmed from the company’s 401(k) plan.

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You don’t have to put up with employees who can’t get along with others, raise their voices, slam doors and generally act as if they could explode into a rage at any moment. Those are legitimate firing offenses.

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that just because an employee who has been demoted received good reviews in the past doesn’t mean that she is still meeting her employer’s legitimate expectations.

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Women who were sexually harassed while working for Leona’s Pizzeria in Chicago never got their piece of the pie, according to the EEOC. Now the famous chain is being sued to force it to live up to its obligations.

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When an employee files an EEOC complaint or lets anyone know he has sued former employers, remind managers not to say anything.

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ERISA allows employees to sue if they believe they suffered retaliation for giving information or testifying in an ERISA proceeding. Until now, employers assumed that an employee had to at least make a formal complaint to the DOL before he could sue for retaliation. That’s no longer true.

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Some jobs require not just bilingual ability, but fluency in a particular language other than English. Hiring for that specific skill isn’t discrimination.

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against United Airlines in a disability accommodation case that could ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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If you know an employee has previously been injured at work and collected a workers’ compensation settlement, you may consider transferring him for fear he’ll hurt himself again. Resist that temptation. Taking any kind of adverse em­­ployment action could be construed as discrimination based on disability or perceived disability.

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Employees who are so sick they need FMLA leave certainly can’t perform essential job functions while on leave. Employers must alter their workload expectations accordingly. If they don’t, and then later punish the employee for poor performance, an FMLA interference lawsuit is almost sure to follow.

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If you can’t find a way to end persistent workplace harassment, a court may conclude that your organization acted recklessly in denying an employee’s civil rights. That may mean you’ll owe a huge punitive damages award.

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You don’t have to accommodate disabled employees who can’t per­­form the essential functions of their jobs under any circumstances. If making reasonable accommodations won’t help, the ADA doesn’t apply. But before you can make that argument, you must be able to show what those essential functions are.

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As long as hiring managers can logically explain why one applicant was selected instead of another, courts probably won’t question the choice.

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Good news on the FMLA front: A court has ruled that employees have to do more than merely mention that a family member is sick to trigger an employer’s FMLA obligations.

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A federal judge has ordered Chicago-based Prospect Airport Services to implement an anti-harassment program after determining that the company ignored previous court orders issued after it settled an EEOC harassment suit in 2010.

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A teacher who was fired after filing a police complaint against a student who threatened him at school has won the right to a jury trial.

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Genie Temporary Service in La Salle will be closing its doors soon, but not before paying $80,000 to a former temp who the EEOC says was a victim of disability discrimination.

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WRS Compass will pay $2.75 million to settle an EEOC racial discrimination and association lawsuit filed on behalf of workers at the environmental cleanup company’s facility in Lake Calumet.

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