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IL labor lawyerA bill called the Illinois Freedom to Work Act was amended last year and the new changes took effect on January 1, 2022. The amendment addressed several common issues involved in non-compete agreements, including setting minimum salary thresholds for when such agreements are legal, parameters to ensure they are fair, and conditions to protect employees laid off, fired, or furloughed for Covid-19-related situations.

Non-compete contracts can be highly restrictive and it may be in your best interests to negotiate or dispute them. If you are considering signing a non-compete clause, speak with an experienced Illinois business law attorney first. If you have already signed a non-compete clause, a business law attorney may still be able to help you challenge an unfair or illegal contract.

What is a Non-Compete Clause or Agreement?

Depending on the type of agreement, a non-compete clause can restrict an employee from working for another employer in a similar capacity, working in a specific geographic area, or working at all for a specific period of time. These clauses often contain vague language around when the clause can kick in, including being fired or laid off for any reason. Violating the terms of a non-compete agreement can result in serious financial consequences for the employee.

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IL business lawyerBusiness owners pour their hearts and souls into their businesses. If you own a business or hope to become a business owner soon, it is crucial that you understand how to protect the results of your hard work.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are business contracts that prohibit parties from divulging confidential business information. NDAs can be powerful legal tools for protecting trade secrets, client information, and proprietary business practices or methods. However, these contracts must be executed properly to be legally enforceable.

Confidentiality Agreements Have a Range of Uses

Non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements are used for many different purposes. When businesses seek new investors, they share substantial information about their business ideas, inventions, and strategies. What is stopping a potential investor from using this information to start a competing business or selling it to another party? This is why many businesses ask potential investors, partners, or buyers to sign NDAs.

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IL business lawyerBeing laid off or fired is disappointing and may even be confusing - Was it something that you did? Was it something that you did not do? Especially in cases when an employee has done nothing wrong, employers often opt to have the employee sign a severance agreement before they sever ties. A severance agreement is a legal contract that employers use to maintain some sort of post-employment control and to prevent the employee from suing. Because Illinois is an at-will state - meaning as an employer, you can fire an employee at any time, and an employee can quit at any time - severance agreements are most commonly used when a contract was signed prior to employment. Before you give the agreement to your employee, you should have an experienced attorney look over the contract and pay special attention to specific clauses.

Severance Pay or Money the Employer Owes

Sometimes, due to an existing employment contract or company policy, your employee is already entitled to severance pay, so a clause included in the severance agreement is not necessary. If you owe your employee any money, such as for unreimbursed job expenses, it should be noted in the agreement, along with a date by which you will pay.

Employee Benefits

Your agreement should outline which benefits your employee is entitled to following termination, like medical benefits or stock options. Your employee has the option to stay on health insurance through your company’s insurer for up to 18 months after termination, thanks to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1995 (COBRA). You should also include who is responsible for insurance premiums if the employee does choose to remain on the company’s health insurance plan.

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For many business owners, terminating an employee is something they hope they will not have to do. Unfortunately, letting employees go is just as much a part of being a business owner as hiring employees is. When an employer fires an employee, the employer must be careful to avoid creating an opportunity for the employee to sue.

Illinois is an “at-will employment” state, which means that a workers’ employment can be terminated for nearly any reason, including no reason at all. However, there are exceptions. For example, it is illegal to fire an employee on the basis of the employee’s age, race, national origin, and other characteristics protected by law. This creates a vast gray area when it comes to letting an employee go, and employers must make certain that the termination was handled in compliance with the law. There is no way to completely eliminate the risk of being sued, but avoiding these common mistakes can help business owners avoid litigation.

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If you are on the job hunt or have recently been hired by a new company, it is important that you review the contract given to you by your new employer. Many new hires will sign employment contracts relieved to have found a job rather than skeptical about the contract’s details. No matter how much your employer appears to explain the contract in front of you, there is always the chance that some details are being left out. One of the terms that you may overlook is a non-compete agreement hidden within the pages of text. Many employers will be upfront about this agreement to avoid any future contention while others may fail to mention what this means for you as an employee of their company. In order to avoid this confusion, you should always take the time to review your hiring contract with a reputable business attorney.

What is a Non-Compete Agreement?

Evident in the name, this contractual agreement restricts employees from working for or becoming a competitor for a set period of time. These non-compete agreements, also known as covenants not to compete (CNC), are enforced when an employee separates from their employer and the employer wants to prevent the employee from taking on a position that would be considered their competitor. Depending on the details of the agreement, these CNC regulations can last weeks, months, or even years after leaving your place of employment. This is meant to protect the company’s secrets and to keep the employee from poaching other employees to work alongside them.

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