Category: Commercial Law

Herman presents seminar on New Overtime Rules

MHT Presents Seminar on New Overtime Regulations to Local Businesses

MHT Partner Joshua D. Herman, in coordination with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University, presented a Lunch and Learn Seminar for the New Overtime Rules on July 26, 2016.

The new Overtime Rules almost double the salary employees must be paid in order to be exempt from overtime payment protections, requiring all business – large and small – review their current employees and prepare.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University and Joshua Herman, a partner at the law firm of Miller, Hall & Triggs, LLC, cosponsored a lunch-and-learn regarding the new Overtime Regulations to address the significantly impact to local businesses.  Attendees learned about:

  • What the new rules change;
  • How the new rules apply to their business;
  • The need audit employee classifications and how to do so;
  • How to maintain exemptions or otherwise handle newly non-exempt employees after Dec. 1; and,
  • Severe penalties for failing to comply with the rule.

If you would like a copy of the written materials provided to attendees, or if you would like more information about what you must do to prepare for the changes in the law, contact Joshua Herman.

For more information, see the recent news broadcasts regarding the new overtime rules by visiting WMBD New Overtime Law or by reading the Peoria Journal Star article: “Many employers unaware of how new overtime rules affect them.”

New Occupational Safety and Health Requirements in 2015

Law Repeals Current Requirements and Imposes New Ones

By Joshua Herman

joshua.herman@mhtlaw.com

Effective January 1, 2015, the new Occupational Safety and Health Act (the “Act” or “OSHA”) becomes effective pursuant to Public Act 98-874, repealing the Safety Inspection and Education Act and the Health and Safety Act.  The new law establishes federal occupational safety and health standards as default requirements and it applies to every public employer and its employees.  While the Act permits the Illinois Department of Labor to adopt restrictions even more stringent than federal law requires, it also permits the Department to allow temporary and permanent variances from the Act upon request.

Generally, the Act requires a public employer to “provide reasonable protection to the lives, health, and safety of its employees” and to provide “each of its employees employment and a workplace which are free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”  The Act requires the Director of Labor to adopt rules requiring public employers to keep accurate records and make reports of “work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses” as well as maintain records of employee exposure to “potentially toxic material or harmful physical agents.”

Employers should review their workplace notices because the Act requires public employers to inform their employees of their protections and obligations under the new Act. Because these notices must include applicable standards or rules the Department of Labor adopts under this Act, the Department will likely provide updated notices soon. Public employers must also provide employees “with information regarding hazards in the workplace, including information about suitable precautions, relevant symptoms, and emergency treatment.”

An employee who believes a violation of the Act has occurred may request an inspection by the Director of Labor, the enforcer of the Act.  The Director may issue citations for violations, which are punishable by civil penalties (up to $10,000.00 per violation) and criminal penalties (ranging from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony).  A public employer or its representative may contest a citation or notice of violation by filing a request for hearing with the Director.

At a minimum, public employers should review their workplace policies, potential safety and health risks facing employees, and revise workplace notices to comply with the Act.

 

Ban the Box

New Law Prohibits Asking About Job Applicant’s Criminal History

By Kateah M. McMasters

Beginning January 1, 2015, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (the “Act”), P.A. 98-774, prohibits employers from asking potential employees to “check a box” or to otherwise provide detailed information about his or her criminal history on a job application.
The General Assembly’s purpose in passing the Act is “to do more to give Illinois employers access to the broadest pool of qualified applicants possible, protect the civil rights of those seeking employment, and ensure that all qualified applicants are properly considered for employment opportunities and are not pre-screened or denied an employment opportunity unnecessarily or unjustly.”
Despite the Act’s prohibition, employers may notify applicants in writing that certain offenses will disqualify the applicant from ultimately securing employment due to Federal law, State law, or the employer’s policy. Further, the Act does permit employers to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history if the applicant is determined to be qualified for the position and selected for an interview or, if there is no interview, until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
Importantly, the Act does not apply to positions where (i) an employer is required by federal or state law to exclude an applicant with certain criminal convictions; (ii) a standard fidelity bond or similar bond is required and an applicant would be disqualified from obtaining a bond because of one or more specific criminal convictions; and (iii) individuals are licensed under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act.
The Act does not provide applicants a private cause of action; instead, the Department of Labor enforces the Act. An employer’s first violation of the Act will result in a written warning giving the employer 30 days to remedy the violation. If the violation is not remedied within 30 days or a second violation occurs, the employer will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $500. If the first violation is not remedied within 60 days or a third violation occurs, the employer will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,500. A fourth or subsequent violation, and any violation persisting for more than 90 days, is subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,500 for every 30 days of noncompliance.
It is important to note the Act defines an “employer” as “any person or private entity that has 15 or more employees in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such an entity or person.” It appears from the plain language of the Act that it does not apply to public bodies such as school districts and municipalities. However, the Department of Labor (DOL) has not provided a definition of the terms “person” and “private entity,” thus it is unclear whether the Act does in fact apply to public bodies. Until the DOL provides clarification, public bodies should consult with legal counsel to ensure their hiring process conforms with the Act’s requirements.