exemption minimums, Chicago Employment Law Attorney, overtime payIn July, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposal of changes regarding the way overtime pay should be calculated when applied to “white collar workers.”

White collar workers are typically known as the administrative, executive, and professional employees of a company, and are considered exempt workers when it comes to overtime pay. Typically, an exempt employee is not entitled to overtime pay.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), exempt employees perform certain job duties, which are described under the Act. They also are paid a weekly salary, as opposed to an hourly rate. Under the current law, which has not been altered since 2004, in order for an employee to be considered exempt, his or her salary must be a minimum of $455 per week or more.  This works out to a minimum of $23,660 annually.

The DOL has proposed that the minimum salary be raised to $921 per week ($47,892 per year), with another increase next year to $970 a week ($50,440 annually). The DOL proposal also includes an annual increase of minimum salary requirements.

What the Changes Mean

Any individual who receives a salary of less than $921 per week would now be entitled to receive overtime pay—at a rate of time and one-half—for any hours over 40 that he or she works each week. The Department projects that this increase in minimum salary would affect five million workers who would be entitled to overtime pay pending the proposals are enacted.

Unlike other federal changes, these proposals do not have to be approved by Congress in order for the changes to be adopted into law. The changes are considered regulations under the Act, but do not actually change the law. Therefore, a Congressional vote is not required. However, the DOL is required to offer a two month period where anyone—businesses or individual citizens—can voice his or her support or opposition to the proposals. This period recently ended on September 4.

If your employer owes you wages for hours you have worked, please contact an experienced Chicago employment law attorney who can advise you on your overtime eligibility.




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harassment at work, sexual harassment, Illinois Sexual Harassment AttorneySexual harassment at work can take many forms. Suggestive jokes, comments about appearance, and inappropriate emails are all examples of the many types of sexual harassment an employee may encounter in their workplace. Not every type of sexual harassment is easily noticed, however, making it difficult to recognize just how common sexual harassment is. A recent survey in a popular women’s magazine asked readers about sexual harassment at work, and the results may surprise you. Of the women surveyed, one in three reported they had experienced harassment at work.

To explore how many sexual harassment incidents women may face at work, we first need to understand the definition of sexual harassment. This is difficult, because what qualifies as sexual harassment can differ depending on the situation and the people involved. The American Association of University Women says that sexual harassment in the workplace can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, direct or indirect threats or bribes for sexual activity, sexual innuendos and comments, sexually suggestive jokes, unwelcome touching or brushing against a person, pervasive displays of materials with sexually illicit or graphic content, and attempted or completed sexual assault.” Due to the many different ways one could be sexually harassed, knowing exactly when a person has been harassed can be difficult depending on the situation.

Workplace sexual harassment can happen to men and women, and can happen between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man, or any other combination. A recent survey conducted by Cosmopolitan Magazine solely explored its prevalence among women between the ages of 18 and 34. Published in early 2015, the survey polled over 2,000 women, and found that one in three of them had been sexually harassed at work. Cosmopolitan does disclaim that the difficult aspect of the survey is that there are many more women who do not realize they are being sexually harassed. 16 percent of the survey takers said no, they had not experienced sexual harassment, but did report they had been involved in sexual jokes and other incidents that may truly qualify as sexual harassment. An overwhelming majority said they were harassed by male co-workers or male clients, while only 10 percent said they had experienced harassment from other females.

The survey also examined which work environments have the highest and lowest number of reported sexual harassment incidents. The food service industry has the highest level of sexual harassment, followed by retail, STEM careers, arts and entertainment, and legal. The lowest reported levels of harassment were found in the fields of education and health care. Of the total number of survey takers, about 29 percent said they had reported being sexually harassed. Only 15 percent of those who did report the incident felt that things had been handled properly.

If you have experienced sexual harassment, a qualified Chicago area sexual harassment attorney can help. We will review your case and assist you in seeking the justice you deserve.







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wrongful termination, Chicago Employment Law AttorneyWhen you are fired from a job, it can feel as if you have been specifically targeted by a boss or supervisor. However, there is a big difference between being fired or terminated from a position and wrongful termination, which, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is illegal.

Generally speaking, if a person is fired because of racial, sex, ethnic, disability, veteran, or age, he or she likely has a surefire case of wrongful termination. A person may also have a wrongful termination case it can be proved that he or she was let go because of something he or she said off company grounds.

If the individual can prove that he or she is being let go because he or she was a whistleblower, or because he or she revealed something to be damaging but true about the company or its leaders, he or she is then protected under special Department of Labor protections afforded to whistleblowers.

One major misconception of wrongful termination involves the use of free speech and just how far the First Amendment extends when it comes to the workplace. Unfortunately, First Amendment rights—free speech—do not extend to private property. That is, if you disagree with your supervisor on a political or social issue, while in a private workplace on company time, you are not covered by the First Amendment.

Political speech is not protected when at work, that is, unless the employee in question is a public employee paid by the government. The only states that allow you to express political views at the workplace are Louisiana, South Carolina, Connecticut and California. Being fired for saying something political that is in disagreement with your employer is not considered wrongful termination.

If you feel that you are being discriminated or harassed and then call out your employer for doing so and are fired in retaliation, this would be considered wrongful termination—as long as you made it known to your employer that his or her behavior was unwanted. It is best if it is documented on paper or a conversation is recorded.

If you are fired for reasons that seem discriminatory or harassing, and you did not make your dislike of the behavior known to your employer, it may not be considered wrongful termination.

If you or someone you know feels that he or she may have a wrongful termination case, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago employment law attorney today.




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