COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

Articles Posted in Small Business

Help with Business Law Issues

What to do when your business is forced to close due to the CoronaVirus?

Does your business insurance policy cover the lost business due to the pandemic?  Most businesses carry commercial property insurance, which often includes business income coverage provisions.

Recent events have caused our Chicago area business clients to raise questions as to what to do when their business is forced to close by Governor Pritzker’s “Stay-At-Home Order.”    Business owners have some options they might want to consider.

As coronavirus puts workplaces and indeed whole states including Illinois into “shelter in place” mode, employers need to respond quickly and sensitively to a host of health-related issues that no one anticipated dealing with as recently as a few weeks ago.

Emploment Issues in the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Pandemic and Employment Issues

These questions apply less directly to the many employees who are able to work from home during the crisis, but those whose employers remain open and who need to be on site to do their jobs will have to strike a delicate balance with their employers between safety, and performance of one’s job duties (and continuing to get paid).

Force Majeure Clauses

SBA Loans to Small Businesses affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

THERE IS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS.

Practically every small business is feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world.   The restaurant and hospitality industries have been hit the hardest, but every business has seen the adverse effects.

Did someone say force majeure?

Force Majeure Clauses

COVID-19 Pandemic and Force Majeure clauses

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, force majeure is defined as “An event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled.”   It is generally viewed as an unexpected event that prevents someone from doing or completing something that he or she had agreed to do.  The term is usually applied to acts of God (such as floods and hurricanes), riots, strikes and wars.  It is unclear, however, if the term includes an epidemic, such as COVID-19.   That legal term for unforeseen circumstances resulting in non-fulfillment of a contract is likely to be invoked widely this spring and summer as businesses are unable to make good on commitments due to the corona virus crisis.

Borrowing a line from Leynrd Skynrd’s song, three quick steps to the doorway of business organization will get you into today’s preferred format for your business – a limited liability company (“LLC”).    So here are the three quick steps:

  1. Draft and file the Illinois Articles of Organization.  This is a required form offered by the Illinois Secretary of State and gives the State all of the required details for your LLC.  This is required in every state.  Although the questions seem simple, each one can have some serious ramifications for your business.    Even the choice of a Registered Agent is one that should be considered with care.
  2. Every LLC needs an Operating Agreement.  The is an important document as it relates to the ownership, management and taxation of the business.

Help with Business Law Issues

Protecting Chicago Area Business Owners.

The threshold for white-collar employees to be classifiable as “exempt” rose about 50% to $684 per week (about $35,568 per year) on January 1, 2020. Employers will need to make adjustments to ensure they’re compliant with this updated rule, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, announced on September 24 by the U.S. Department of Labor.  By “exempt” I am referring to employees who do not qualify for overtime pay.

The Illinois Freedom to Work Act, which prevents non-governmental employers from requiring that low-wage employees enter into non-compete agreements, has begun to impact case law in the past three years since it was enacted. Employers would be wise to take note.

Help with Business Law Issues

Chicago Business Lawyers

The act, which defines “low-wage employees” as those earning the greater of $13 per hour, or the federal, state or local minimum wage, pushes back against employers who insert such agreements into new employee packets as a matter of course.

We all get them … and we get them all the time … and we are all tired of them … and we all cuss them out!

Many of those calls are illegal.   Some of the robocalls you may have agreed to receive when you signed up for certain services – like those reminders that your prescription needs to be refilled – and those are legal.  But the automated, unsolicited calls coming from other countries are finally getting some attention from the federal government.

TRACED-Act-300x167The dead heads in the House and Senate have finally agreed on something and adopted the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (“TRACED Act”) at the end of 2019 and it was signed into law at the end of 2019.  The TRACED Act’s stated purpose is to limit the increasing number of illegal robocalls and other violations of the telemarketing laws.  The Act also gives the FCC more powers to punish violators under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and to seek out violators in foreign countries.

Non-competition agreements (“non-competes”) have long been viewed as viable means for Chicago area business owners to prohibit former employees from taking confidential information and using it to unfairly compete against the business.   Non-competes are actually prohibited in some states, but not Illinois.

Illinois allows the use of non-competes with some limitations.  Illinois employers are allowed to use non-competes provided they reasonably protect the employer’s legitimate business interests.  What this means has been left to the courts, and there has been a steady erosion of the effectiveness of non-competes by limiting the scope of those agreements.

Illinois has passed several laws recently which limit the effectiveness of employee non-competes and which should be of concern to Chicago area business owners:

Chicago Business Lawyer

Illinois Cannabis Laws create new issues for Property Owners

Cannabis may be legal in Illinois after January 1, but it is still illegal under federal laws.  This will make for some interesting discrepancies in how the laws will be applied.  Federal law remains in direct conflict with the new Illinois state law.  There are a number of issues that property owners should be concerned with on January 1.

Federal Subsidized Housing:  In federal subsidized housing – like the Housing Authority of Cook County – medical or recreational use of marijuana has been and remains prohibited in the Housing Authority’s housing programs. This includes participants using Housing Choice (“Section 8”) Vouchers in the private rental market,