Thoughts On The Freedom To Work Act

I recently spoke on a panel discussion at the DuPage County Bar Association “Mega Meeting” in Lisle on the subject of “The Freedom to Work Act.” I thought it would be worthwhile to share my comments on the law. The Freedom to Work Act is a completely new form of legislation encompassing restrictive covenants under Illinois law. The law directs the use of restrictive covenants for individuals making less than a certain wage.

The Act prohibits non-competes imposed upon employees who earn less than the minimum wage. Here’s the issue: The Act, which was passed last year and went into effect on the first of this year, defines a “low-wage employee” as someone who earns the minimum wage (as determined by the federal, state or local hourly minimum wage laws.) The law sets the bar at the highest minimum wage, so even though minimum wage in Illinois ranges from the $7.25/hour federal minimum wage all the way up to the $13/hour in Chicago, in reality the law bars non-competes for everyone marking less than $13.01/hour.

This is a first of its kind law in the U.S. It is important to address the ongoing changes in employment law as the States and Federal governments react to the most recent elections. It raises issues implicit in EEOC pay practices for larger employers.

Employment law is what I’ve been doing for 30 years. Rules and regulations are changing daily, and it is important to be proactive in keeping up with the salient Employment Law issues. Employers must keep up. I can confidently say that a poorly managed employment relationship can be extremely costly in terms of both productivity and liability. Our firm has seen this so many times. It’s painful to deal with but it’s also avoidable. I have helped many clients navigate the employment landscape with its complex laws and regulations. Our firm has proven itself adept in cases involving discrimination, wage and hour issues, wrongful termination, exit strategies and severance arrangements, trade secrets, restrictive covenants and unemployment compensation.

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