COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski


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Illinois Freedom to Work Act 

Illinois Employers who want to protect their business and trade secrets by using restrictive employment contracts will find new hoops to jump through.   The enforcement of non-compete and non-solicit agreements, designed to erect roadblocks to prevent former employees from gaining an unfair advantage due to their proprietary knowledge of your business or relationships with your customers, has always been tricky.  But a recent law will make it more complicated.

An amendment to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act that will take effect on January 1, 2022, will create new hurdles for business owners hoping to prevent employees who have left on frosty terms from exploiting their knowledge of customer contacts, pricing and other trade secrets that could enable them to take shortcuts to parity as your adversary.

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Wills Can Be Signed Electronically

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, wills needed to be signed in person and witnesses (including notaries) needed to be on hand to see the will creator’s actually sign the will.

When the pandemic got underway, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed an Emergency Order declaring that for health and safety related reasons, wills could be signed electronically and that notaries public and other witnesses could view the signing from afar, provided they had a dependable audio and video connection.

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Attorneys Misty Cygan and Geo Bellas can help your get business off to a good start.

We’ve run a series of posts recently about the steps involved in launching a business.  These have covered issues like deciding what type of business you want to start and what your business model will be; putting together a business plan and identifying sources of capital investment; and naming and registering your business.

This final post will flesh out how forging a beneficial relationship with a law firm that delivers services in a punctual, professional and affordable manner is key to the endgame of getting started with your new venture.

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Illinois Cannabis Business Market

Licenses for a legal cannabis business have been a hot topic lately, and now the the Illinois Supreme Court has made its first ruling related to the byzantine process of obtaining a license for a legalized cannabis business in the state, and it seems likely to be the first of many.

The legislative effort to limit the number of licenses the state issues drives up the value of said licenses to the point where it almost seems to bait those who don’t win the competitions to get one, and who sometimes end up angry and confused as to why.

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COVID Rules for Residential Evictions

RESIDENTIAL EVICTION UPDATE – August 27, 2021 – SCOTUS weighs in.

Finally, some clarity to the situation by the source least expected – the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”).   It has been a tortured road for Landlords during the COVID-19 Pandemic as the story is told in this blog.  Basically, SCOTUS ruled that the eviction moratorium mandated by the CDC exceeded it’s authority under the law.   The justices divided along party lines, with the court’s three liberal justices dissenting from the unsigned eight-page decision.  Landlords are now allowed to start evicting millions of Americans who are behind on rent because of the Pandemic.

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Considerations for Starting a Small Business

Recently, we ran a post What to consider when Starting a Small Business, Part One  about some of the early steps in starting a small business—deciding you’re ready, figuring out what type of business you want to start, surveying your competitors, and figuring out the optimal business model.

At that point, it’s time to get down to the proverbial brass tacks and put together a business plan, which really doesn’t need to be more than one page long unless you’re going to apply for a loan from a bank (in which case you should find out what the lending institution requires).

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Are you thinking about starting a small business?

It can be an exciting and challenging endeavor, although it’s more likely to succeed if you plan ahead, take it step by step, and surround yourself with trusted, experienced advisers.  Of course, such an important endeavor – not to mention a life alternating event – requires hard work, ingenuity and more than a little legal advice.   You can start by going to our webpage on What to Ask When Staring a Business.

Keep in mind that there might never be an absolutely perfect time to start your own business – so for starters you need to take stock of your mental state and make sure you’re as ready as you will ever feel.  

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Business interruption insurance & COVID

Should business interruption insurance cover losses due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, even if said insurance policy contains a virus exclusion?

A bar and restaurant based in Park Ridge and a former jewelry store in Chicago have gone to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that their policies with West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. should cover such losses, which they say are due to the Illinois state government orders, not the virus itself. (Mashallah Inc. et al. v. West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., U.S. Seventh Circuit, 21-1507)

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Drop the Mask in your business?

After a year of employee and customer mask requirements being a no-brainer for small businesses, the CDC’s recent change in guidance that those who have become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 need not wear masks in many public settings has required business owners to put on their thinking caps again with regard to this issue, for the first time in more than a year.

Major retailers like Costco, Kroger, Walmart, Target, Walgreens and CVS have revised their guidance to match that of the CDC, although individual store locations in more highly populated areas like Chicagoland have not necessarily followed suit.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the City of Chicago Department of Housing (DOH) have each announced separate Emergency Rental Assistance Programs.  Both programs will be funded using the federal COVID-19 relief funds.   Owners with non-paying residents in Chicago can apply to both agencies for assistance, but will only be allowed to receive funds from one of the programs.

Landlords can apply for the Illinois House Development Authority assistance at:  https://ilrpp.ihda.org/

The Chicago Emergency Rental Relief Assistance Program will begin taking applications on May 24.   This program is open for both Tenants and Landlords.  For more information about this program, click HERE.