Illinois Sues a Second Business Over Non-Compete Agreement – What Employers Need to Know

Illinois small business lawyerWhile most small businesses are only interested in making ends meet, there are large corporations and franchises out there, trying to take advantage of blue-collar workers. Sadly, when employees are paid low wages and asked to fill out a non-compete agreement, they may find themselves stuck, with no way out.

That is why Illinois now has a law on non-compete agreements; two companies have been sued in the past year for violating it. Learn more about this law and what it could mean for your company, and discover how an experienced business law attorney can help you avoid legal problems over improper use of non-compete agreements.

Understanding the Purpose of a Non-Compete Agreement

Non-compete agreements are not meant to keep wages low or violate an employee’s rights. Instead, they are supposed to ensure that a company’s reputation and trade secrets are protected from its competitors. That is not to say that low-wage paying companies are lacking in trade secrets or that their reputation should not be protected, yet by forcing low-wage employees to sign non-compete agreements, they are protecting their company in a way that is detrimental to the employee. In a country where wages have become stagnant, unfair treatment of low-wage employees is an offense that Illinois is no longer willing to overlook.

Protecting Your Company with a Non-Compete Agreement

If you pay your employees at least $13 per hour, the state will permit you to use a non-compete agreement to protect your company’s reputation and/or trade secrets. However, it is critical that you understand the risks associated with developing such an agreement without proper legal assistance. Verbiage, particularly when it comes to issues that might be considered a violation of the employee’s rights, must be carefully thought out and well-versed. There are also certain elements that cannot be added to a non-compete agreement. Ensure you do not make a costly mistake by hiring an experienced attorney to draft your non-compete agreement.

Contact Our DuPage County Small Business Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we understand the challenges that small businesses face in today’s competitive market. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County small business attorneys can listen to the goals and concerns you have about trade secrets and potential market competitors. Provided it is warranted, we can also help you draft a non-compete agreement to protect your company’s financial future. Learn more by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-illinois-payday-lender-noncompete-lawsuit-20171026-story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/business/economy/illinois-noncompete.html

Examining the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Illinois small business attorneysIn a sole proprietorship, an individual proprietor (the owner), manages and runs their business. They receive all income for the company, but they are also responsible for its debts, liabilities, and tax obligations. Learn more about this widely used business structure, including its advantages and disadvantages, and how an attorney can assist with the setup.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Of all the business structures that one can choose, sole proprietorships tend to be the most affordable and easiest to start. Paperwork and other legal items are generally less extensive, and the sole proprietor is only required to comply with state and federal tax laws, zoning laws, and other local regulations, such as licensing laws.

There are also few formal business requirements (except those specific to the industry they operate in), and because the owner has full control over the decision-making power within their business, they may sell or transfer it to another owner or entity at any time they deem necessary. The owner may also change the structure of the business at any time, but it is important to recognize that obligations before the switch may still fall on the owner of the company.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Unlike other business structures, sole proprietorships are not protected from liabilities and bad debts incurred by their company. Instead, they may be held personally liable. In extreme situations, this can cause the business and the owner to simultaneously go bankrupt. Furthermore, the sole proprietor is required to pay all federal taxes on any income earned, and they may be penalized if they do not meet their obligation.

Another major disadvantage is that few investors are willing to put money or energy into a sole proprietorship; quite simply, there just is not enough protection for the investor. As such, sole proprietor business owners typically rely on personal loans and assets to finance the company. If the business fails, this can result in a serious financial loss for the owner of a sole proprietorship.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

Although sole proprietorships are relatively simple and straightforward in terms of setup, there are some obstacles that business owners should be aware of before moving forward. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can help ensure that these matters are understood by business owners and that they receive personalized attention to fit their needs. Learn more about how we can assist with your business set-up by scheduling a personalized consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys. Call our offices at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/allbusiness/AB4113314_primary.html

Investigating the Social Media Conduct of an Employee

Illinois business law attorneyAs most business owners know, the actions and inactions of an employee can greatly impact your company’s image. When the action is a positive experience, it reflects well on the company. The exact opposite happens when an employee acts in a way that is considered unacceptable. Unfortunately, if that poor conduct occurs online, the employer may be limited in the actions they can take. Learn more about the investigation of an employee’s social media account, including how to avoid violations under the Stored Communications Act.

Unsavory Social Media Behavior

If your company has an image to protect – be it honesty, integrity, compassion, or top-notch customer service – then you may already have a social media policy in place. Unfortunately, some employees may still break the rules, even with the rules in place. If that happens, you may need evidence from an investigation before you can bring action against the offending employee (i.e. termination, lawsuit, etc.). Without it, you may be at risk for litigation. Yet conducting it can also place your company at risk, especially if you violate the SCA.

The Stored Communications Act

Enacted in 1986, the Stored Communications Act protects the private electronic communications of every American. It states that no one can intentionally access the electronic communications of another person without their consent. Not even law enforcement can access certain information without a search warrant. Employers may be at an even further disadvantage and could even be at risk of criminal charges if they violate the Act.

What Can You Access, and How?

One of the easiest ways to monitor an employee’s social media account is to request that they add you or your company as a contact. Not only does this give you a first-hand account of what they are posting, but it also gives you a way to take screenshots of offending posts. Another strategy is to require that employees provide you with copies of offending posts. You cannot request access to their account, however, and it is advised that you avoid requesting information that may be unrelated to the offending comment.

Obtain Assistance with Your Company’s Needs

Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC understands just how important it is to protect your company. Whether you need assistance with the development of a social media policy, an investigation of an employee, or protection in the face of litigation, we are here for you. Schedule your personalized consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2017/06/22/investigating-employees-social-media-activity-3-pe

https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-1061-unlawful-access-stored-communications-18-usc-2701