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Chicago Employment Lawyer Explains Equal Opportunity Job Openings

A job advertised as an EEO means the company may not discriminate in benefits, payment, firing and other vital areas.

“If you’re looking for a job and find one that indicates it is an equal employment opportunity (EEO), it means that the company cannot discriminate against you in terms of recruitment, training, benefits, payment, firing or hiring. In addition, when the job is posted, that company must post a notice for all workers that outlines their rights under EEO laws,” said Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.

The EEO laws forbid discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age or sex. In addition, a company cannot refuse to hire or fire someone for not speaking English, unless it is a specific job qualification.

“For example, if a warehouse employee’s job not does not include talking to sales representatives about ordering, they cannot be fired for not speaking English. Put another way, if the company is discriminating against those who do not speak English, they must prove a job absolutely requires English,” Coffey said.

An offshoot of discrimination is often harassment. Harassment may include bullying, name calling, stalking, verbal and non-verbal threats, targeted and offensive teasing and sexual innuendo, assault, lewd gestures and other offensive behaviors. “It is not just women that may be sexually harassed. Men can be as well,” Coffey said.

Workers who are in situations at work where they feel they are being harassed, demeaned, discriminated against, threatened or bullied, need to take their concerns to an expert Chicago employment lawyer. If attempting to deal with the issue by reporting it to management has not resulted in any changes, it may well be time to take legal action.

The law is there to protect those who are being subjected to harassment and discrimination and those laws need to be enforced in workplaces that choose to flaunt the rules and regulations. “Righting a wrong situation in a workplace is often a lot about not only doing it for yourself, but doing it for others who may follow in your footsteps later. Harassment and discrimination are not to be tolerated in today’s working world,” Coffey said.

Timothy J. Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer with, and owner of, The Coffey Law Office, P.C., a Chicago employment litigation firm. To learn more, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 30th, 2011 at 7:56 pm and is filed under News and Press
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Chicago Employment Lawyer Suggests Reviewing any Severance Package Prior to Acceptance

Never accept a severance package at face value. Take it to a skilled Chicago employment lawyer for review.

It is well known that the U.S. economy is forcing many businesses to cut back operations. That may include laying people off, putting any expansion plans on hold or making deep cuts to the budget. This is all done in the name of being able to stay in business.

“Whatever the reasons for your layoff, you may get offered a severance package. Many of them seem to be, on the surface, good deals. However, some of them have drawbacks you might not be aware of and this is why you need to consult with an employment lawyer,” said Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.

In today’s economy, one way to cut expenses at the office is to reduce the number of workers on board. This is accomplished through layoffs. Generally, many employers will issue their laid off staff a check for a month or more to help them while they try to find other work. None of these packages are standard and may vary from case to case.

Employers may create severance packages based on a number of criteria, such as how long the worker has been with the company, what their position is, how much they are paid, their performance and other factors that fit the particular employee being laid off and the circumstances at the time. “The thing you need to know about severance is that although you may feel that you deserve it, the employer is normally not required to give you one in a layoff situation,” Coffey said.

On one hand, severance is a bonus that may assist someone get through the rigors of job hunting. On the other, the paperwork that usually goes with a severance package and check usually means an individual does not get their pay for weeks or months. This of course compromises the person trying to keep up with their financial obligations while looking for work.

“The one thing that many people do not realize is that accepting a severance check may disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits. Never just accept what you are given without speaking to an employment attorney first,” Coffey said. “In addition, you may also not be aware of the fact that if you accept the package, you generally are required to release your rights to file a claim against the company for any wrongdoing they may have perpetrated.”

Timothy J. Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer with, and owner of, The Coffey Law Office, P.C., a Chicago employment litigation firm. To learn more, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 7:55 pm and is filed under News and Press
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Companies Asking for Doctor Notes for Absence When Workers are on Intermittent FMLA Leave May be Sued

If you are working for a company that is asking you to produce a doctor’s note when you are absent when you are already on an abridged calendar leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may be the victim of illegal FMLA interference.

A recent federal court decision will significantly impact on companies that have an employee head count policy or paid sick leave policies that demand workers justify their absences with doctor’s notes if a worker is already on intermittent leave under the FMLA.

The decision centered on the finding that the defendant company’s attendance policy illegally obstructed the plaintiff’s use of FMLA leave, by mandating that a doctor’s note must be turned in after every absence, despite the fact that the doctor had already sent in a certification stating the need for sporadic leave for up to a year.

The court indicated the company demanding a doctor’s note every time the worker was not there ultimately discouraged the plaintiff, and other workers, from taking intermittent leave. In addition, it found that the FMLA’s recertification regulations already protect the company from an employee’s abuse of leave.

While the defendant argued that they were just enforcing their attendance policy, which also acted to discourage leave abuse, the court held that the note requirement unjustly interfered with FMLA leave because it was burdensome and may compel the worker to submit notes on a weekly or more recurrent basis. The judge further held that recertification is the preferred way to verify a worker’s time off is related to the FMLA and is so stated in the regulations.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, this is something that really needs to be discussed with a Chicago employment lawyer who stands up for worker’s rights. You will need to know precisely what those rights are, what may be done about the situation, what will happen should you go to court and what you may expect as an outcome to your case.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit employmentlawcounsel.com.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2011 at 7:54 pm and is filed under News and Press
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Workers Protected by Law for Reporting Unlawful Actions to Employer or Government

If you see something amiss in the workplace, you have the right to report it. You also have the right to be protected for speaking out.

In a nutshell, if you do report something that you believe may be illegal happening in your workplace, you are protected by law from your employer taking action against you. If they do take action, this may be illegal retaliation. Taking a step forward like this is something that a good, responsible worker would do; speak out to report a wrong that they believe is violating the law.

If you are acting in good faith, are being honest and reasonable and trying to rectify what you view as an illegal action, you are backed up by the whistle-blower retaliation statute(s). These statutes, usually found in a state’s Labor Code, but also on the federal level, are becoming a rapidly developing area of law that targets the rights of workers against retaliation or any other damaging actions that an employer may choose to take against an employee who has blown the whistle on them.

Typically speaking, it is your right to speak out and complain about dishonesty and illegal actions in a workplace. You may choose to report the matter to the employer or to a government agency. Most people prefer to report what they suspect is illegal activity to a government agency, to provide themselves with an arm length protective barrier against their employer.

Situations where someone is reporting a company for a violation of the law are tricky. Although the worker may take a stand to stop it, most are not comfortable with reporting something they view as illegal to the person they feel is responsible for the activity.

Most commonly, many of the violations reported deal with safety problems or hazards and/or harassment and discrimination against other workers. Often there may also be reports of unfair business practices that may involve defrauding the federal government or other falsifications. Speaking up means the person is swimming upstream in a virtual holding pattern, as many of the other workers around them want to maintain the status quo for the sake of conformity; they wish not to rock the boat and change things.

It is no small matter for someone to risk their career, paycheck and financial security to speak out against a wrongdoing. Many spend hours agonizing over whether what they are planning to do will make a difference, what will happen when they speak out and wondering if they are even right about the illegality of certain actions on the part of the employer.

You are not required to be 100 percent certain that what you are speaking out about is not legal. This is something for your Chicago employment lawyer to sort out and you definitely need an experienced employment litigation attorney on your side. The sooner the better, as actions like this are complicated and you need to have your rights protected.

While it may feel like a real risk to stand up, be counted and speak your truth, you have that right and you are protected if you do so. If you are the victim of unlawful retaliation, speak to a seasoned Chicago employee litigation attorney to have action initiated on your behalf and specifically customized to your situation.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit Employmentlawcounsel.com.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 at 7:51 pm and is filed under News and Press
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