As we approach the summer months with temperatures rising and days getting longer, the issue of summer interns gains more interest for both employers and the interns alike. For the interns, they gain experience, training and exposure to the employment industries and real work life. For employers, they gain new help, new ideas and hopefully development of a pipeline for future employees. But one of the biggest problems with regard to summer interns for employers is whether or not the summer intern is a paid or unpaid position. This year, the United States Department of Labor has rejected its old six (6) factor test and replaced it with a new seven (7) factor test which is known as the "Primary Beneficiary Test".
I am fairly certain that a number of readers of this article will have been on airlines or in restaurants where they have observed individuals being allowed to have "service animals" accompany them on their trip or their restaurant excursion. It is not surprising that the issue of service animals in the workplace is now becoming more common and potentially raising issues that an employer must address.
On May 23, 2019 the Illinois Supreme Court ruled, in Jane Doe v. Chad Coe et al. - a case of first impression for the court - what elements are necessary to pursue a lawsuit for "negligent supervision" of an employee. Most state courts recognize claims against employers for negligence regarding their employees who harm others, and Illinois is no exception. "Negligent hiring" generally involves hiring an employee who foreseeably would harm someone, who in fact does go on to harm someone (e.g. hiring an individual to work at a day-care who is known, or through a reasonable background check should have been known, was a convicted pedophile who poses a risk to children, if the employee later molests a child). Conversely, a claim of "negligent retention" may exist where an employer fails to discharge an employee known (or who reasonably should have been known) to present a foreseeable risk to others, who then goes on to do harm. Yes, that's right - employers sometimes have a legal duty to fire an employee! The recent Coe case involved claims for both negligent hiring and negligent retention, but also a claim for "negligent supervision." As the name suggests, a claim for negligent supervision involves an employer's failure to properly supervise employee(s) to avoid foreseeable risks of harm to others. While the Illinois Supreme Court had previously recognized the existence of a claim for negligent supervision, it had not addressed what elements are required to pursue such a claim. In doing so the court paved a relatively easy path for plaintiffs to sue not only employers for negligent supervision, but also individuals who direct and control workers. Employers, owners, managers and front-line supervisors in Illinois will want to take notice of this important decision and pay particular attention to the kinds of specific responsibilities expected of them (perhaps even doing a "Google search" on some applicants).
Clients have called me recently (with increasing frequency) seeking legal advice on how to respond to the "no match letter" that they suddenly received in the mail from the Social Security Administration. It is a two page letter entitled "Employer Correction Request."
A few days ago, I thought to myself "You should write an update on the ACA. Everyone always wants to know what is happening with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because it's interesting and so are you." (I shared this thought with my wife, and she categorically disagreed.)
Here are some of the most news-worthy developments in labor law for the first months of 2019.
By now, every Employer in the State of Illinois is aware of the Illinois Supreme Court Decision in the Rosenbach v. Six Flaggs Entertainment Corporation and the State Supreme Court interpretation that, under the context of the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, a Plaintiff does not need to show an "actual injury" to process a claim, merely establishing that the Employer has not complied with the requirements of the Act." Those requirements are of informing Employees in writing of the specific policy for the collection of Biometric data; providing a retention schedule and guidance for permanent deletion of Biometric Information and, most importantly, procuring from the involved Employee a written release authorizing the collection of Biometric Information. If these procedures are not followed, the Employee would have a claim. As well, based on newspaper reports and an article written by this author for the Illinois Client Update, the State Legislature is considering "amending the Biometric Information Privacy Act to remove the private cause of action and make the Act solely enforceable by the Illinois Attorney General. Whether or not that Amendment will pass the Illinois Legislature is subject for debate since the Plaintiff's Lawyer's Bar seems to have a very close rapport with the Democratic Majority in the State House and Senate.
In order to have non-compete agreements which have a chance of being found legally enforceable by an Illinois judge, Illinois employers must carefully figure out the scope of activities to be restricted by their proposed non-compete agreements. Employers relying on the protection of a non-compete agreement naturally want to protect the company's legitimate business interests. The problem is that a one-size-fits-all broad restriction is more comprehensive than a narrow restriction but runs the extremely high risk it will be judged unreasonably broad and therefore legally unenforceable in Illinois.