Prinz Law Firm Blog

  • Auditing Your Career

    The end of the year is always a busy time in our office. A lot of employment changes occur at the end of the year and a lot of business deals get closed. When you are in the midst of the whirlwind of wrapping up a year and celebrating the holidays, it is hard to set aside time for reviewing the past 12 months. However, before you start planning for next year, it is important to take inventory of ...
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  • Remembering Nelson Mandala's Broad Impact on Equality

    Mr. Nelson Mandela passed away last week at the age of 95. Many remember him for his instrumental role in dismantling apartheid in South Africa, fighting racism, his Nobel Peace Prize, and spending twenty-seven years in prison. He was also critical in promoting all forms of civil rights. He advanced equality for women and the LGBT community. Due to his leadership, the South African Constitution ...
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  • Starting a Business While You Have a Job

    A few weeks ago Barbara Corcoran (TV Personality on “Shark Tank”) published a LinkedIn Blog on How to Start Your Own Business on The Side. It’s not much of a “how to,” but she does relay some interesting stories about businesses she has invested in that were started on the side. We work with a lot of entrepreneurs and, unless you have investors, we echo Corcoran’s mantra of testing your idea while ...
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  • Human Resources Doesn't Represent Humans

    Earlier this week Bernard Marr posted Why We No Longer Need HR Departments on LinkedIn. He advocates for dividing HR Departments into two divisions: People Analytics and People Support. This proposition has a pleasant sound to it. One division represents the corporate interests and the other is there to keep employees happy. Marr’s recommendation comes from a good place. However, that place is ...
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  • The Senate Passed a Law to Protect LGBT Employees, but House Passage is Still Necessary

    Current federal laws prohibit employment discrimination based upon gender, race, religion, and national origin. Unfortunately, federal laws do not prohibit an employer from firing an employee due to the employee’s sexual orientation. Politicians are attempting to increase federal protections for LGBT employees, and are currently debating the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”). The bill ...
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  • Do performance evaluations matter?

    Motorola Solutions, Inc. has ended its practice of labeling employee’s performance. Instead of the typical check box method of identifying employees as “meeting expectations,” “exceeding expectations,” or “failing to meet expectations” (or something akin to those labels), Motorola now requires managers to give ongoing feedback and an annual review focused on achievement of objectives. Bonuses are ...
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  • Human Rights Laws Fail to Protect Unpaid Interns

    This summer, rights for unpaid interns became a national story. In June, a judge ruled that the production company for “Black Swan” owed back pay to two unpaid interns. In addition, numerous people criticized Sheryl Sandberg after she recruited unpaid interns for her Lean In Foundation. A recent decision in New York should bring greater attention to these issues. A New York federal district court ...
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  • What are "Clothes"?

    The United States Supreme Court will answer that question during its upcoming term. In Sandifer, hourly workers requested that the company pay them for the time it takes to put on “personnel protective equipment.” Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., 678 F.3d 590 (7th Cir. 2012). The equipment includes flame resistant pants and jacket, work gloves, and work boots containing steel. However, the ...
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  • Giving is Good

    When I quit my secure job and started my firm, I did so because I believed I could build an office that emphasized service over billing. The goal was to help people turn adverse events into opportunities to build their careers and businesses. Four years later, I work with a team that is focused on aligning with client goals, improving skills, working together and providing the best service ...
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  • EEOC Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuits

    After it won a favorable ruling in court, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) settled two lawsuits with Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. On September 3, 2013, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the District Court of the Northern District of California found that Abercrombie failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to a Muslim employee that wore a hijab at work. A hijab is a ...
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  • A Class of Women Receive a Nearly $2 Million Dollar Settlement in a Discrimination Lawsuit

    The City of Chicago recently settled a lawsuit with a class of women that alleged that the Fire Department’s testing process was discriminatory. The settlement was for $1.98 million, with potentially an additional $1.7 million in legal fees. The women filed a lawsuit in 2011 and alleged that the Fire Department applied a discriminatory test that measured upper body strength, which would be ...
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  • The Real Meaning behind Labor Day

    For most of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer and is a great excuse to squeeze one last barbeque in before the weather starts to change. Most of us take for granted the true meaning behind Labor Day and the efforts of those that came before us which the day is meant to commemorate. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 was celebrated to honor the American labor movement and its social and ...
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  • A Revolutionary Road to Success: Give and Take

    Recently, our office read Professor Adam Grant’s new book, “Give and Take.” The book has already climbed the bestselling book lists for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, and Apple. Professor Grant is one of the youngest tenured professors at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and routinely makes himself accessible to his students. He even follows a strict rule ...
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  • Protecting Your Job

    While there might be legal relief for employees that lose their job, there are important steps employees can take prior to termination. Self-awareness is an important skill for an employee. Employees should attempt to determine their strengths and weakness, and how those skills fit within the corporate goals. An important question to ask is what is the company looking for out of the position? And, ...
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  • What does the DOMA ruling mean for you?

    On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional as a deprivation of equal protection and due process under the Fifth Amendment. Specifically, in the case of United States v. Windsor, the Court found that it was unconstitutional for DOMA to deny, for federal law purposes, state-recognized valid same-sex marriages. Accordingly, ...
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  • Two Years of Employment are Key for a Valid Non-Compete Clause

    Recently, an Illinois Appellate Court provided a definitive opinion regarding non-compete agreements. The Court indicated that Illinois Law requires at least two years of employment for an enforceable non-compete or non-solicitation agreement. The Court’s opinion is an important step to provide clarity for businesses and employees. In Fifield, a company required that an employee sign a new ...
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  • Tips about Tips

    Recently, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that Starbucks baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors. Despite the baristas’ arguments that shift supervisors perform many managerial duties, the court found that they still regularly provide direct service to patrons, and thus are eligible to be part of the tip-pool. However, managers and assistant managers are not able to participate ...
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  • 8 Signs You Are Being Fired

    Many times clients complain that their termination came out of left field; however, most of the time they just missed the signs. If you know the signs to look for, you can often address any issues before termination, or at least begin your job search and be better prepared if you are terminated. Here are some signs to look out for: 1. You have to train another employee on your job 2. Major ...
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  • Illinois Might Pass Three New Employment Laws

    The Illinois legislature is busy debating several employment laws. Recently, the Illinois House and Senate passed the Illinois Employment First Act, which provides greater job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Currently, state agencies help people with disabilities find jobs. The Act would require those agencies to first look for jobs that offer competitive wages and also find jobs ...
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  • Take your vacation, you earned it.

    Did you know that when you leave your job, Illinois state law mandates that you receive all of your accrued but unused vacation pay? Although no law requires that employers provide vacation pay to their employees, if an employer choses to provide vacation pay, it must pay a departing employee all accrued and unused vacation in order to comply with the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. If ...
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  • The Benefits of Working at a Small Business

    When people discuss the benefits of working at a small business, they often say that the companies allow more flexible hours or are a better fit. But prospective employees sometimes forget that working at a small business can also be really helpful in achieving long-term career success. While a small business might have fewer resources than larger companies, smaller businesses provide two ...
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  • Will you be my mentor?

    In her book “Lean in,” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, discusses the mistake many women make in seeking a mentor by asking “will you be my mentor?” This question, she opines, can be a turn-off. A mentorship relationship is not something that should be forced. I tend to agree. There is a lot of established evidence which shows that a mentor or a sponsor can really help women and minorities get ...
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  • Physician Employment: Does a Shortage of Family Physicians in IL Mean an Opportunity for Employment Negotiations?

    Today Crain’s Chicago Business published Dr. Carrie E. Nelson’s opinion piece arguing that Illinois may not have enough Family Practice physicians after 2014. She claims that only 9% of Illinois medical school graduates in Illinois chose family medicine as their primary practice area and only a third of those will stay in Illinois for residency training. These numbers may not be good indicators of ...
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  • An Illinois Representative Proposes a New Non-Compete Law

    Employers often require their employees to sign a non-compete agreement. The agreements vary in terms of length, geography, and industry. Currently, Illinois courts have discretion when determining whether these agreements are valid. The Illinois Supreme Court indicated that total or general restrains on trade are invalid because they injure the public; however, a non-compete agreement is valid if ...
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  • Equal Pay Day - April 9, 2013

    Today is Equal Pay Day. This date symbolizes how far into 2013 women must work to earn what men earned in 2012. The U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent study shows that on average, women earn 82 percent of what men earn. The statistics are worse for minority women. Women, on average, not only earn less overall, but earn less in almost every industry when compared to their male counterparts ...
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  • Is Age Discrimination a Violation of the Constitution?

    A state worker can bring a claim for age discrimination through the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, at least according to a decision by the Seventh Circuit Appellate Court here in Chicago, Illinois. Levin v. Madigan, 692 F.3d 607, 615-22 (7th Cir. 2012). However, other jurisdictions have disagreed with this decision, and instead have indicated that an employee can only bring a claim ...
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  • Does "Leaning in" mean not raising claims of discrimination or harassment?

    Yesterday I saw Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of “Lean in,” a book which has ignited a national conversation about gender issues speak about her book. Her speech was inspiring. It’s pretty clear that she has been hearing the feedback from women who say that her book doesn’t acknowledge the advantages she has over the average woman or the multitude of different goals each individual ...
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  • Book Smarts, Street Smarts . . . and Professionalism Smarts?

    We often find that a number of our clients, although intelligent and well-intentioned, end up in difficult predicaments at work due to a lapse in judgment or unprofessional behavior. Why do such smart individuals make these mistakes? Is professionalism something that should be taught in schools? According to the dismal findings of the 2013 Professionalism in the Workplace Study released by The ...
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  • International Women's Day

    I just attended a great event hosted by the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women, The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and the American Bar Association in celebration of International Women’s Day. International Women’s day is celebrated on March 8th each year in order to promote the equality of women. The event highlighted an important point – discrimination still exists. Many men and ...
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  • Job Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation

    This could be a big year for gay and lesbian rights. The Supreme Court will hear two cases regarding equal marriage rights, one case involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act, while the other case involves a California law. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it might lift its ban regarding gay members. During his inaugural address, President Barak Obama provided his support by ...
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