Human Resource Legal Helpline

Having employees means having questions about the laws that apply to your workplace.


Large businesses with a dedicated human resources department, small businesses with just a few employees, and everyone in between all inevitably face employment law issues. Such issues usually need to be addressed quickly and correctly, lest they blow up into a larger problem.

Wage and Hour Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that requires overtime payment for “non-exempt” employees, and establishes a federal minimum wage. The most common FLSA issue faced by employers is whether an employee is entitled to overtime (and at what rate), or if the employee is exempt from the overtime requirements.

The Illinois Wage Payment Act (IWPA) establishes when, where and how often wages must be paid and prohibits deductions from wages or final compensation without the employee’s consent.  Individual owners, officers and managers of a business may be subject to personal liability, as well fines and the legal fees of the employee, for violations of the IWPA. In the case of willful violations, employers (and their owners and managers) can be criminally liable. The IWPA also requires employers to keep records of employee wages.


FMLA Compliance

Employers with 50 or more employees generally understand that their workforce is covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons, including pregnancy, adoption, foster care placement of a child, personal or family illness, or family military obligations. But the ins-and-outs of what qualifies for leave, when leave is exhausted, and the administration of employees returning from leave can raise questions for even the most experienced human resources professionals.


Disability Accommodation

The Americans With Disabilities Act (and the Illinois Human Rights Act) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified job applicants or employees in order for them to be able to fulfill the essential functions of a position.  These laws require employers to engage in an interactive process with employees, to figure out what an employee needs and if there is some reasonable accommodation that will allow him or her to do a particular job.  There are no “cookie cutter” answers when talking about accommodation; each employee is different, and every position has its own requirements.


Paid time Off—Vacation and Sick Leave

If your company offers paid vacation, you are required to pay employees for unused vacation at the time of their termination.  Computing unused vacation can cause confusion; how much needs to be paid at that time depends on how your vacation policy is written.  Additionally, the Chicago sick time ordinance requires accrual of sick time and rollover of up to half of unused time.  We can help clarify how to structure your polices to be clear and avoid surprising pay outs.


Maternity Leave and Nursing

While no federal or Illinois law requires an employer to offer maternity leave, it’s a common benefit.  If your workplace has over 50 employees, FMLA may be used as maternity leave as well.  Women returning from maternity leave may still be nursing and looking to your company for break-time and a private place to express breast milk.