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Telecommuting increased close to 80 percent just between 2005 and 2012, and an estimated 30 million people now report working from home at least once per week. App Developer Magazine featured an interesting article recently on how dynamics in the workplace are changing as more and more people are telecommuting, and how this changes employment law as it relates to employer-employee relationships and established legal policies.
In fact, there are legal benefits to having some salaried employees telecommuting instead of working out of the office, however, it’s also important to realize that allowing for telecommuting does change certain legal policies for employers.
As more and more employees are working remotely, in all likelihood, many of them are going to be accessing work networks from their home computers. It is very important that if a telecommuting employee does access the network remotely that there is an established security system protecting the company’s files and sensitive information, including the appropriate passwords, encryption, and network firewalls. As of 2014, the average cost of a data breach reached close to $6 million.
It is also important that all telecommuting employees have signed a confidentiality and/or non-disclosure agreement in order to ensure that the company’s privacy has been maintained and that, if not, there is a legal recourse to bring an action against the employee and any other offending parties. In addition, many companies ensure that they establish network access for the telecommuting employee, but do not ensure that, in turn, they can retrieve files from the telecommuting employee in case anything should happen. Make sure that you are able to do this; an easy way might be to have a policy requiring that the employee saves any and all work to the same network device (such as the company server) instead of the individual computer hard drive of the computer they are working on.
What about Non-Exempt Employees?
While most telecommuting employees are salaried and exempt from overtime (because they are not subject to overtime and thus there is less concern about reporting working hours), if you do have non-exempt employees work from home, ensure that here is a reliable way to keep track of worked hours and that you have a policy in place beforehand that restricts the number of hours they can work in general.
Liability and Workers’ Compensation
While there are always policies pertaining to injuries in the workplace, ensure that there is a similar policy for any work-related injuries for those working from home.
Interestingly, having employees work remotely decreases the potential for discrimination because, arguably, the employee is more likely to be judged based on work product rather than potentially discriminatory factors. However, at the same time, employers need to ensure that having an employee work remotely cannot be legally interpreted as being discriminatory in and of itself (i.e. the potential that the employer is specifically only having that employee telecommute because they do not want them in the office).
It is also important to keep in mind that there have been instances where an employee claimed that failure to allow them to telecommute at least part-time constituted failure to provide disabled accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Contact Experienced Employment Law Attorneys
Goldman & Ehrlich is known for providing excellent legal representation to Chicago-area employers. If you need assistance, contact us today online or call 312-332-6733 and we’ll get started helping you with any employment law issues.
As a boss, you already know the pressure and the stress of running your company. It is a daily battle to make deadlines, achieve goals, motivate employees and provide income for them to feed their families. When one of your employees files a discrimination claim against you, you must address this quickly with an employment law attorney. But there are common sense steps you can take to prevent a discrimination claim from occurring, or create proper protections for your company if a claim is filed.
Of highest priority is making sure all employees are consistently treated the same in all actions you take (or do not take), treated consistently by their supervisors and managers as compared to other employees, and maintaining proper documentation of any performance or misconduct issue for all employees. Performance standards for employees should be applied consistently, and should discipline be necessary, apply discipline consistently for each employee engaging in similar acts. Should a discrimination complaint be made by an employee, take the employee’s complaint seriously and investigate it properly to determine what if anything has occurred. Employees are more likely to file a discrimination complaint if they feel their concerns were not taken seriously and properly addressed. Contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. Good communication among all parties, supervisors, managers, and your employment law attorney, and proper and accurate documentation may help to resolve a matter before it becomes a legal action and leave you in a better position should a lawsuit be filed.
There is insurance available for companies to protect against employment harassment and discrimination lawsuits. Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is a specific type of liability insurance that is targeted to companies and employers so that they can have protection against liability cases that arises out of standard employment practices. While the cost may seem extensive to protect for “what if” scenarios, peace of mind for the future may be just what you need.
There is more than one way for an employee to make a discrimination claim against her employer. It is important to know how these claims can be made so you know best how to protect yourself from them.
An employee may make a claim to someone employed by the business.
The employee might choose to make a claim directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Either or both of these methods.
Chicago Employment Attorneys
When an employee files a discrimination claim against their boss, it is time for an experienced corporate defense attorney to be fighting your side. Contact our law firm today at 312-332-6733 or connect with Goldman & Ehrlich online.
Perhaps you are working for a Mobile Phone Service and before hiring you, they ask you to sign a non-compete clause on your hiring contract. This may seem strange though it isn’t uncommon. However, there are some critical things to note about non-compete agreements, in particular for those living in the state of Illinois that is unique compared to most other states.
What is a non-compete agreement?
This agreement is a contract stating that you will not begin work as a competing business nor work for a competitor for a particular period of time, often stated in the agreement, after your relationship with your employer finishes or ends. The reason behind this, is to ensure that you won’t share intimate knowledge of how their business works to competitors or be in a position to steal away clients, other workers, and customers by exploiting the knowledge you received during employment with them.
Rule of Reasonableness Test
The Illinois Supreme court, in the 2011 decision Reliable Fire Equip. Co. v. Arredondo, established what it called a “rule of reasonableness test” to determine the enforceability of a restrictive covenant, with the Court providing that a restraint on trade is reasonable only if it:
is no greater than is required to protect a legitimate business interest of the employer;
does not impose undue hardship on the employee; and
is not injurious to the public.
Your Chicago Business and Employment Lawyers
Create legal policies and contracts of integrity for your employees that protect your business’s’ interests by following federal and state employment laws. Avoid mistakes that could put you at risk, and better serve your business and your employees. Contact Goldman & Ehrlich, today at 312-332-6733, or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.
Goldman & Ehrlich is located in Chicago, IL and serves clients in and around Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.
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