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Chicago Legal Issues Blog

Some things you shouldn't expect your employees to do

What is an unreasonable request to make of an employee? There are typically no hard-and-fast rules on these things short of anything that's illegal or could be deemed discriminatory.

Some employees may be more agreeable to doing whatever is asked of them than others. However, just because an employee is willing to do something, that doesn't mean you should expect them to. What you perceive as a request, they might view as a demand or at least fear that if they don't agree, their job will be in jeopardy.

How to prevent allegations of immigration status discrimination

As a Chicago employer, you likely have applicants and employees with a wide variety of immigration statuses. Just as it is illegal to discriminate against employees and job applicants based on protected statuses like race, nationality, gender and disability, it's also illegal to discriminate based on immigration or citizenship status.

That is confusing for many employers. They don't want to run afoul of laws prohibiting people who are in the country illegally or who don't have the proper documents from getting a job.

Should you sell your products in a large online marketplace?

You've created your own line of scented candles or perhaps homemade jewelry, wall art or t-shirts. You're ready to start selling them online. Do you use a proven e-commerce giant like Amazon, Etsy or eBay or do you do it through your own website?

There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to putting your products in an online marketplace -- and also to relying on your own site. That's why many entrepreneurs use both.

What do you need for a valid confidentiality agreement?

The confidentiality agreements (often referred to as nondisclosure agreements or NDAs) that you have employees sign need to hold up in court, if challenged. Otherwise, they are basically worthless. That's why do-it-yourself agreements like those you can download from websites aren't a good idea. It's best to have your attorney help you draft them and make sure that they address your specific goals and needs.

There are a couple of important elements that need to be present for a confidentiality agreement to be valid. Let's look at those.

Why businesses can be liable for employee harassment by customers

As a business owner, you are proud that you've established a workplace where discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment) are not tolerated. Your employees at all levels know that it's unacceptable and that if they report it, they'll be taken seriously.

However, you have far less control over customers than you have over your employees. Often, customers are the ones who instigate workplace harassment. What happens if an employee reports that they were sexually harassed by a valuable client when they went to their office? What if a waitress at your restaurant reports that a customer who spends thousands of dollars there every month directed a racial slur at her? Would you treat those allegations the same way you would if they involved another employee?

Can noncompete agreements be broken?

If you have a business that has unique practices that give it an edge over competitors, you want to do everything possible to protect those valuable secrets. One tactic you may use is having your employees sign a noncompete agreement.

Noncompete agreements prevent your employees from working for a competitor, making sure your employees can't give your competitors valuable information on your business practices. However, employees and courts have started to question the legality of noncompete agreements. While court rulings and laws have started to change the scope of noncompete agreements, you may still be able to use them for your business.

What happens when a member wants to withdraw from an LLC?

There’s no question that operating a business is both rewarding and challenging. If you are a member of a limited liability company, you might have chosen this business organization because it was easy to set up and flexible in its operation. However, you could face a challenge when a member wants to withdraw from the business.

If you do not take care when a member wants to withdraw, you could be risking the future of your business. There are a variety of reasons a member could withdraw. A member could be going through a change in their life or maybe your business goals have changed. So, how do you ensure a clean withdrawal?

What does it mean to have dual citizenship?

Many people who move to the United States wish to eventually gain citizenship so that they may fully enjoy the rights and benefits offered to citizens through the government. When seeking U.S. citizenship some individuals may choose to give up their citizenship in their home countries. Others may elect to retain their home country citizenship and obtain United States citizenship as well.

Dual citizenship means just that: retaining citizenship in two different countries. There are different ways that Chicago residents can become dual citizens. Having parents from a different country while being a United States citizen is one; becoming a naturalized United States citizen while maintaining one's home country citizenship is another. Readers should talk to their immigration attorneys about the different ways that dual citizenship may be sought.

What employers are covered by the ADA?

Not every American employer must conform to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Pursuant to Title I of the ADA, only employers that carry at least 15 employees are mandated to conform to the ADA's terms. That means that some small Illinois businesses may be exempt from the strict rules of this anti-discrimination law.

When an employer is required to conform to the ADA, they are prohibited in undertaking certain actions. For example, they may not allow disability discrimination to play a role in any employment decisions for their employees. That means that they may not discriminate when hiring to workers, promoting existing workers or firing certain individuals from their workforce. Disability-based questions may not be asked during interviews for positions with the ADA-covered entity.

An overview of business partnerships

The term "partner" is used in many different contexts outside of the world of business. Two people who choose to live together in marriage or as a committed couple may call each other their partners, and good friends who have a close emotional bond may refer to each other as their "partners-in-crime." In the business world, though, a partnership has a distinct meaning and Chicago business owners should understand it before they commit to being partners with others.

A business partnership is defined by having a business with more than one involved party. Partnerships have at least two entities involved and can be structured so that those entities share the profits of the business. There are not many formal requirements to creating partnerships, but individuals should know what liability they take on when they enter into partnership agreements.

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