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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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DuPage County business law attorneysBusiness owners are used to word of mouth publicity. They even know how to encourage it in the right context - but today's consumer is different. He or she uses social media and the internet to determine where they will shop, eat, or purchase goods. Online reviews, such as those left on review sites like Yelp, play a key role in their decisions.

Many business owners have struggled with this new platform, and some have even attacked the right to leave reviews online, claiming there is no way to verify that the consumer even visited their establishment. However, the law has upheld a consumer's right to use such sites. Learn what this could mean for your business in the following sections, and discover how an experienced business law attorney may be able to help boost your company's bottom line.

The Consumer's Right to Yelp and Your Business

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DuPage County business law attorneysAll businesses - even small ones - must comply with applicable federal labor laws. How do you know if your small business is violating one? The first step is to examine the four most commonly violated labor laws. The second is to ensure you have an experienced attorney on your side. Learn more with help from the following information.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act is meant to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain medical or family issues (i.e. death, birth or care of a newborn child, placement of an adopted child or foster child, and caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition). However, not all employees or businesses may be entitled. Companies with fewer than 50 employees may not be obligated to provide family medical leave, and any employee who has not worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months may be ineligible for this protection.

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