The Chicago Employment Law Blog

March 2012 Archives

Last week, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced new federal rules for individuals receiving unemployment benefits. The new requirements are part of a federal law, passed in February, extending jobless benefits for laid-off workers through 2012, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The new measures were implemented to ensure that individuals receiving benefits are continuing to update their job skills and look for work. If jobless benefit recipients fail to comply with the requirements, their payments will stop.

How to Start a Pop-Up Business in Chicago

How do you start a pop-up business in Chicago?

First, we need to answer the question that many of you may have: What is a pop-up business?

A pop-up business is a relatively new concept that's catching fire. The idea is that a pop-up retail space is temporary. The store "pops up" one day, only to disappear nearly the next day. A good example of this might be the Halloween costume stores that pop up every October, only to disappear by November. But now the concept has grown far beyond costumes.

Angelica Vasquez 8 Year Unemployment Fraud Sentence Upheld

You don’t need to hire help to fill out unemployment insurance paperwork. But there are some scammers out there, like Angelica Vasquez, who might convince you otherwise. The Illinois Department of Employment Security is sending out a very strong message in the wake of Vasquez’s arrest and conviction: Don’t cheat the system or else there will be consequences.

Vasquez was found guilty in 2010 by a Chicago federal jury on charges involving fraud stemming from unemployment insurance applications. Her eight-year stint in federal prison was upheld this week by a federal appeals court.

Job Interviewers Asking for Facebook Passwords

Is it legal for a prospective employer to ask you for your Facebook login ID at a job interview? One would assume not. Yet it seems as though some prospective employers have been asking for information on social media accounts of prospective employees, leading many to wonder whether such interview behavior crosses the line.

Why would a prospective employer ask for your Facebook login information?

Fired For Wearing Orange Shirts? At-Will States Say That's OK

Can you get fired if your boss doesn’t like the color of your shirt?

According to NBC Miami, a Florida law firm fired thirteen employees after they came to work wearing orange shirts last week. The employees say that they were wearing the shirts so that they looked like a group when they went out for happy hour. They claim to have worn orange shirts every pay day for the past few months.

Can Your Small Employer Discriminate with Impunity?

You may have read all the cases about big money judgments in employment discrimination and harassment cases. But before you get too worked up over a perceived workplace slight, you should know the rules about employers who are covered by discrimination laws.

While most people know there are laws out there that prohibit employers from discriminating against you for your race, sex, religion, or other protected characteristic, few people know that these laws don't apply to all employers.

Chicago Police Officers Want Pay for Caring for Dogs at Home

Should police officers get paid for caring for police dogs at home? That’s the issue in a police officer dog lawsuit filed this week against the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.

Generally, employees get paid for the time they’re at work or performing functions related to work. Whether someone is working is pretty much cut-and-dry for most jobs. However, when employees bring work (or a work dog) home, the questions of when work ends and begins becomes much more difficult to define.

Bruce Weber Fired As Illinois Basketball Coach

Bruce Weber was fired as the head basketball coach at Illinois. After experiencing early success with the program (using Bill Self’s players), Weber and the program have fallen onto hard times including missing the NCAA tournament three of the last four years

But don’t feel too bad for Weber. While he is out as the head basketball coach, he could likely get a job at another school or could take a million-dollar television gig somewhere. In addition, Weber will be paid a buyout of $3.9 million over the next three years, reports the Chicago Tribune. So, could he be one of the highest paid people in Illinois, possibly thanks to the use of state funds, for doing nothing for the Illinois program for the next three years?

Applebee's Wage Lawsuit Will Go Forward As Class Action

Applebee’s restaurants in Illinois are being sued by a class of tipped workers who say they were paid below minimum wage while performing non-tipped work.

AppleIllinois which operates 34 Applebee’s in the state sought to decertify the class arguing that there were not enough similarities between the individual plaintiffs, but a federal court judge disagreed, saying that the class could go ahead, reports Courthouse News Service.

Homophobia in the locker room. There's probably no more macho work environment than the locker room of a professional sports team. A lot goes on and is said in a locker room that would not be tolerated anywhere else -- calling into question whether these activities should be tolerated at all.

Several NHL players are now part of an ad campaign with a simple message: if you can play, you can play; reports Windy City Media Group. The campaign is aimed at the homophobia and anti-gay comments prevalent in many locker rooms.

The Myth of Illegal Interview Questions

There's a lot of misunderstanding and misconception about employment discrimination and the hiring process. If you do a web search for "illegal interview questions," you're bound to find plenty of top 10 lists and stuff that employers cannot ask. But these lists are a bit misleading, as there really is technically no such thing as an illegal interview question.

For example, asking a dark skin applicant about his or her race is not illegal. Asking a woman if she plans to have children is not illegal. Wanting to know where an applicant's parents are from is not illegal.

What Are Your Employee Privacy Rights at Work?

Be careful what you email, browse, and say at work. Your employer may be watching and listening and could potentially use these activities to fire you. You enjoy many privacy rights on your own time, but when you step into the office, you may be surprised by the limitations of employee privacy rights at work.

Employee privacy is a controversial topic as increases in technology have basically enabled employers to monitor every aspect of your workday. For example, employers often have a setup in place where they retain and review your work emails and Internet browsing history. In addition, many employers even have a program set up where they can review your keystrokes, so anything you type on a work computer could be recorded.