What’s scarier than Halloween? For Illinois employers, it could be that they now have only approximately two months to prepare for Illinois’ new limits on employee restrictive covenants. On August 13, 2021, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill (SB) 672 (now Public Act 102-0358) into law, imposing new conditions on employers’ use of noncompete agreements and nonsolicitation agreements in Illinois. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2022, with Illinois joining the tide of states (as well as the federal government–see our blog on President Biden’s recent Executive Order addressing restrictive covenants here) cracking down on employers’ use of restrictive covenants.

Here’s what Illinois employers need to know now.

Employers have a couple of months to prepare–and don’t need to look back at prior agreements

The Act is effective for any contract entered into after January 1, 2022, and does not apply retroactively. Therefore, employers will not be required to inventory and assess agreements signed prior to the Act’s effective date.

Noncompete agreements banned for employees making $75,000 per year or less

The Act does not ban noncompetes for all Illinois employees, but instead for those making $75,000 per year in earnings or less. This salary threshold will increase by $5,000 every five years until it reaches $90,000 in 2037.

“Earnings” includes what employers might expect: earned salary, earned bonuses, earned commissions, or any other form of compensation reported on an employee’s IRS Form W-2.


Continue Reading Don’t Get Spooked By the New Restrictions on Restrictive Covenants in Illinois

Special thanks to Jeffrey Martino and Bradford Newman for their contributions to this post.

On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued his Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy (EO) (Fact Sheet here) signaling support for severe limitation of post-employment noncompete restrictions–a move likely to add fuel to the fire of states passing laws to limit the use of post-employment noncompetes. The EO Fact Sheet states that the banning or limiting of noncompetes will “[m]ake it easier” for employees to “change jobs[.]” Though employers may balk, given Biden’s campaign promises and support for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (see our prior blog here), employers should not be surprised.

The EO encourages the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to exercise the FTC’s statutory rulemaking authority to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.” It is uncertain whether that rulemaking will entirely ban or just limit noncompete agreements; focus on restricting noncompetes for all workers or just those considered more vulnerable (such as low wage earners); restrict nonsolicit agreements along with noncompetes; or preempt state law.

The EO also encourages the Attorney General and the Chair of the FTC to consider revising the October 2016 Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals “to better protect workers from wage collusion” by (as the Fact Sheet explains) strengthening antitrust guidance to prevent the suppression of wages or reduction of benefits through employer collaboration and sharing of wage and benefit information. As we explained in a recent client alert, a push to scrutinize competition issues in labor markets was already in play, tracing back to the 2016 Antitrust Guidance, in which the Department of Justice and FTC alerted companies that “naked” wage-fixing and no-poaching agreements could be prosecuted criminally, and that employers competing to hire or retain the same employees are “competitors” from an antitrust perspective.


Continue Reading Goodbye to Employer Protections? Biden Issues Executive Order Encouraging Curtailing of Post-employment Noncompetes

Employers have been awaiting guidance from the EEOC on vaccine-related incentives since the EEOC stated in April 2021 that it would issue new guidance (but declined to state when). Now, they have it. On May 28, 2021, the EEOC issued updated and expanded COVID-19 guidance in its technical assistance document “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” The updated guidance provides clarification and supplements the original December 2020 version of Section K (“Vaccines”) of the technical assistance.

Key updates regarding incentives include:

  • From a federal EEO standpoint, employers administering vaccines to their employees can offer incentives for their employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive-but a large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information by way of pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions.
  • Federal EEO laws do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic. Employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.

Notably, the EEOC stated in this update that it is beyond the EEOC’s jurisdiction to discuss the legal implications of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status of the three COVID-19 vaccinations or the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approach to vaccine authorization–a response to “many inquiries” the EEOC received about the type of authorization granted the vaccines by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA.


Continue Reading EEOC Updates its COVID-19 Technical Assistance: Employers Administering Vaccines Can Offer Non-Coercive Incentives to Employees

Join us for an educational trip around the globe without leaving the comfort of your home office. We know that the pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for US multinational employers. In addition to keeping your employees safe and maintaining business continuity, it is difficult to keep track of the rapidly changing legal environment for employers

On May 5, 2021, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced the withdrawal of the previous administration’s independent contractor rule, effective May 6, 2021. The DOL has not proposed any regulatory guidance to replace the rule, leaving employers with no clear guidance on worker classification under the FLSA.

The withdrawal is no surprise. The DOL

The US Department of Labor is developing a new regulation on joint employment under the FLSA, a possible first step towards reversing the Trump administration’s business-friendly rule on the joint employer standard.

First Public Notice of Possible New Regulation

On February 23, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) posted on its

The DOL’s just-issued final rule on employee vs. independent contractor classifications under the FLSA seems likely to be reversed. On January 20, the White House issued a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies ordering them to halt all non-emergency rulemaking and regulatory activity issued under the previous administration pending review by

President Biden did not waste any time after taking office on January 20, 2021. Shortly after the Presidential Oath of Office was administered, Biden signed 17 executive actions, which either impact the workplace or provide insight into what may be forthcoming under the new administration for employers.

A Flurry of Executive Orders on Day One

Biden issued a memorandum to agencies to freeze all last-minute regulations put in motion by the prior administration as President Trump was leaving office. Notably, these regulatory “freeze memos” are not uncommon for incoming administrations to issue. This pause on the prior administration’s last-minute regulations will give the Biden administration the opportunity to evaluate the so-called “midnight regulations” and determine if they will become final, be amended, or rescinded altogether.

He also issued an Executive Order reinforcing that Title VII prohibits the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Order references the recent Supreme Court case of Bostock v. Clayton County (blogged about here). Specifically, the Order states “[i]t is the policy of my Administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.” The Order notes that laws that prohibit sex discrimination (specifically referencing Title IX, the Fair Housing Act, and section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act) also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.


Continue Reading Biden and the Workplace: Early Days, Major Changes

Businesses engaging independent contractors have new guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL) for determining whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor, but the guidance may never take effect. On January 6, 2021, the DOL issued a final rule for determining whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor. The rule focuses on whether workers are economically dependent on another business–making them more likely to be an employee of that business, and entitled to the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)–or are economically dependent upon themselves, making them true independent contractors.

Continue Reading DOL Announces Final Rule for FLSA Worker Classification Focused on Economic Dependence-But Its Future is Uncertain

While most employers transitioned large segments of their workforces to remote work over the course of the past year, many also questioned how to satisfy various posting requirements when their workforce is at home. Fortunately, in late December, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance on how employers can use virtual means to distribute and maintain the various posters required by federal employment laws.

Background

By way of reminder, several federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), and the Service Contract Act (SCA) require employers to post a notice of rights in a conspicuous location. Typically — and pre-pandemic — employers met the notice requirements by placing posters on bulletin boards in well-trafficked locations such as break rooms or lobbies. But with the increase in remote work, many employers used company email and intranets as a workaround to notify employees of their rights. Now, employers have guidance to ensure their practices are compliant.


Continue Reading DOL Guidance on Electronic Posting of Federally-Required Notices