The Chicago Employment Law Blog

April 2012 Archives

Most people have stories about putting up with an unbearable boss, but Miaoguang Jin’s takes the cake. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Jin claims that he suffered numerous indignities while working at the Chicago headquarters of SMS Assist LLC, a national facilities maintenance firm, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The lawsuit was filed against SMS; Jin’s boss, Jianqing Zhao; and his boss’ wife, Bixia Xue, and alleges fraud, discrimination, and violations of workplace policies involving etiquette and overtime compensation. In one instance, Jin claims that his boss used the drawing feature to write a big “F—- You” on the man’s computer.

Employers often dread firing an employee almost as much as employees dread being fired. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it’s necessary to let someone go.

If done improperly, terminating an employee can reflect poorly on your company and lead to a messy legal dispute. Below, we’ve included a few tips that will help you avoid many of the legal complications that can arise when firing an employee.

Most people are aware that employers sometimes check the Facebook pages of potential hires, leading people to wipe their pages clean when applying for a job. On Monday, an employee of the town of Cicero learned the hard way that Facebook indiscretions can pop up on the radar of your current employer.

Michael Iniquez, Cicero’s chief of rodent control and a high school board member, has been suspended by the town for three days without pay over a racist post that appeared on his Facebook wall, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

On Friday, Gov. Pat Quinn presented his new plan to cut public pension costs, the Chicago Tribune reports. The plan calls for public workers to pay more, the retirement age to be pushed back, and cost-of-living adjustments to be minimized.

The state pension system is underfunded by more than $80 billion as a result of decades of pension increases approved by state lawmakers and past governors. Quinn believes that if his plan is enacted, it will save the state $65 billion to $85 billion by 2045.

This week, Jacqueline Kennedy of suburban Country Club Hills and 14 other individuals were arrested on allegations that they defrauded state unemployment insurance agencies in Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota of more than $8.7 million, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Kennedy, who owned a South Side tax preparation business, has been charged with six counts of filing false claims for tax refunds, 14 counts of mail and wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

On Wednesday, the Illinois House unanimously approved a proposal that would make it more difficult to approve increases in government worker pensions, the Chicago Tribune reports. Voters will likely consider the measure in the fall.

The proposal, sponsored by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, would amend the state constitution, placing further requirements on pension increases for state workers. It will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved.

Contract talks between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union have moved one step closer to a teacher strike, CBS News reports. On Monday, both the CPS and the Teachers Union agreed to the appointment of a fact-finding panel.

The panel will have 75 days to issue a report recommending terms for a settlement of the labor contract. Under a new Illinois law that regulates teachers, the Teachers Union is prohibited from striking until certain measures fail.

On Saturday, Best Buy announced that it would be closing 50 stores this year, including six Illinois locations, according to Chicago Business. In its press release, the company stated that three additional locations are expected to permanently close later in the summer.

In addition to the lost retail positions, the company recently announced that it plans to cut 400 of its corporate jobs. However, Best Buy stated that it would try to find other jobs within the company for the laid-off workers.

Getting laid off is news no one wants to hear. But, like it or not, it happens -- and with disturbing frequency in recent times.

While it may be impossible for you to salvage your job once you get your pink slip, there are a few things you can do to make the best of the situation. Below, is an overview of the top 3 things you can do to get the best possible deal with your employer after losing your job, according to Forbes.

NBA players Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen believe that players should be paid for their time playing with Team USA in the upcoming London Olympics, according to ESPN.com. “We play the whole summer,” Wade said. “I do think guys should be compensated. Just like I think college players should be compensated as well.”

Many have found Wade’s comments in poor taste, considering the Heat guard’s huge income and the fact that representing one’s country in the games is generally considered an honor. According to Forbes, however, Wade and the other members of Team USA are already compensated for playing in the Olympics, just not officially.

Last week, the Labor Department reported that the economy added only 120,000 jobs in March, a figure that’s a considerable drop from the more than 200,000 jobs that were added in each of the previous three months. The effects of the news have been felt on the stock market, within the political sphere, and among consumers.

Many economists, however, dismissed the drop in hiring, citing the accompanying fall in the unemployment rate and noting that hiring figures often bounce up and down from month to month. Now, The Associated Press offers five reasons why the recent decline in job growth may not be just a blip on an otherwise upwards trajectory, but may actually be indicative of a weakening job market.

Illinois state officials are currently determining ways to cut down on ballooning public worker pension costs, the Chicago Tribune reports. One question is at the core of the matter: can lawmakers cut benefits for current public employees?

The answer to that question may come down to lawmakers’ interpretation of a single line of the state constitution. While Republicans argue that the provision allows for future benefits to be scaled back without issue, Democrats feel differently.

Employers added only 120,000 jobs in March, the slowest job growth since October, and less than half of the 246,000 average amount added over the past three months. The sharp decline is a reminder that there is likely a long road ahead still in the U.S. economic recovery, The Associated Press reports.

The news came at the same time as the Labor Department's announcement that the unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in March, the lowest since January 2009. The figure elicits false hope, however, as the unemployment rate dropped because fewer people searched for jobs.

On Thursday, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act into law, Forbes reports. The Act makes it easier for startup companies to raise capital and gives companies more flexibility in the manner in which they go public.

The “crowdfunding” elements of the Act are probably the most exciting. These provisions allow all kinds of startups, from tech companies to food vendors, to solicit funding from the general public, a practice that used to be illegal.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has urged the city’s sister agencies to adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding employee gifts from outside vendors, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Emanuel sent letters to the heads of the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Park District, City Colleges of Chicago, and Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Emanuel’s plea for a prohibition on all gifts from outside vendors comes weeks after CPS Inspector General James Sullivan accused Louise Esaian, the head of CPS’s food service department, of accepting improper gifts, reports the Chicago Tribune. In his report on the matter, Sullivan also called for a complete ban on employee gifts.