Articles Tagged with Chicago Business Lawyer

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Employee or Freelancer?

Is a person who works for your business financially dependent on you, or can they potentially independently profit based on their skill set? Will they be part of your company indefinitely? Do they perform a central, daily, integral role? Do you dictate when, where and how they work? Do you limit their ability to work for others? Can the person apply what they do to other endeavors, widening their market reach and leading to other revenue streams?

Small businesses and other employers will need ask themselves this set of questions and consider the “totality of the circumstances” in determining whether to classify people who work for them as employees or independent contractors, in a rule change published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division on January 10, set to take effect March 11.

Guest Blogger: Attorney Tracy Ries

For parents going through a divorce, the right-now priority is to retain matrimonial attorneys to negotiate or litigate a plan to divide up assets, determine alimony and child support payments, and haggle over children’s residency and visitation schedules.

And it’s understandable that’s the top focus from a legal standpoint. But assuming you and your soon-to-be former spouse have, at some point, put into place estate planning documents—wills, trusts, powers-of-attorney, life insurance policies or anything else—you will want to revisit those ASAP.

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Transit Benefits Required for Illinois Employers

Another wrinkle for employers in the Chicago area.

Businesses located in the six-county Chicago area near public transit routes operated by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that have at least 50 employees will be required as of Jan. 1, 2024, to provide their full-time employees with pre-tax public transit benefits.

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Long-Term Temps to be Paid Like Employees

Both Illinois employers that contract with temporary labor service agencies, and those agencies themselves that do business in the state, should review staffing contracts and ensure compliance with relevant policies and procedures under amendments to the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, which took effect immediately.

The amendments to HB 2862 hold that temporary workers assigned to a third-party client for more than 90 days are entitled to wages and benefits—or the cash equivalent of benefits—equivalent to the lowest-paid employee at that client who performs the “same or substantially similar” work. If no such person exists, temp workers must be paid the same as the lowest-paid employee with the closest seniority level to the temp.

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Supreme Court Ruling on Religious Reasons

Small businesses and other employers are likely to find it more difficult to refuse requests for religious accommodations after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in a recent case, Groff v. DeJoy, which concerned a postal worker who unsuccessfully requested to be off-the-clock every Sunday—when the post office still makes deliveries for Amazon—citing his Evangelical Christian faith.

Gerald Groff, a Pennsylvania man, nonetheless kept being put on the schedule for Sundays and disciplined for not working while his co-workers were stretched thin attempting to cover his routes. He resigned, sued, lost his case and lost again on appeal—but the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in June established a higher standard for employers who claimed they would face an “undue hardship” to make religious accommodations.

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You Can, But Should You?

To begin with, employers thinking about using AI such as ChatGPT during hiring and selection need to familiarize themselves with the technology at a conceptual level, and then look closely at—and understand well enough so they can explain to others—how AI integrates with their recruiting tools and practices.

A key piece of state legislation in Illinois pertaining to the use of AI is the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act (820 ILCS 42/1), which lays down various stipulations for the recording of video interviews and subsequent use of AI while evaluating said recordings.

Crypto-300x251The pros and cons of accepting Bitcoin and other online payments for small businesses

What are the risks of small businesses taking payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? What are the rewards?

But first, for the uninitiated, what are cryptocurrencies in the first place? They are decentralized digital exchange media that enable buyer-to-seller transactions to take place without a bank or other third-party processor involved. No matter how small your business is, you can take payments over this medium, as more than 30% of U.S. small businesses now do, according to data from Skynova. Bitcoin and Etherium are among the most commonly used.

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Can You Keep a Secret?

At the federal level, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 created a pathway for civil action due to misappropriation of trade secrets; federal courts also can rule on criminal trade secret actions based on the Economic Espionage Act of 1996.

The UTSA defines a trade secret as information with actual or potential independent economic value, based on the facts that potential competitors don’t know about it and don’t have the proper means to obtain it; and that “reasonable” efforts are being made to keep that information secret. The information in question can take the form of a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process.