All posts by Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC

A TRUST FOR YOUR BEST FRIEND!

Did you know you can set up a Trust for your dog, cat, bird, horse, or even guinea pig, to be sure they will be taken care of after you’re gone? It’s true. Illinois’ Pet Trust Statute has been in existence since 2005, and it allows you to provide in your Revocable Living Trust or Last Will and Testament that one or more Trusts will be created and maintained for the sole benefit of your pet or pets following your death.

When preparing the governing instrument, you will specify the following:

  • Which pet or pets are the “beneficiaries” of the Pet Trust.
  • Who will be the Trustee of the Pet Trust.
  • How much cash will be held in the Pet Trust to provide the care needed for your pet or pets.
  • What happens to any cash remaining in the Pet Trust following the death of the pet beneficiary(ies). It can be donated to a shelter or other charitable organization benefiting animals, or distributed to specific individuals.
  • Any other instructions you wish to include to provide direction to the Trustee.

If you have pets who are part of your family, and you want to be sure they will be cared for if you’re not around, take advantage of this legal way to do so. The estate planning attorneys at Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC can work with you to create a Pet Trust for your best friend.

Should you have any questions about a Pet Trust, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE – ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENTS: MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK

Last Friday, a disgruntled employee, Gary Martin, fatally shot five people and wounded five officers at an Illinois warehouse. According to the authorities, Martin was called into a meeting at the Henry Pratt Company warehouse on Friday, which he attended with a hidden gun. After he was told he was being fired, he began shooting, killing the three employees who were at the meeting and two others who were nearby. Martin had worked for the company for 15 years, and was a member of the union. Although the details of his termination have not been released to the public, it is highly likely he knew of his termination when he went into the meeting.

Court records show that Martin had a history of violence prior to the mass shooting, including domestic battery-related charges. In 1995, Martin was convicted of a felony for aggravated assault for stabbing his girlfriend. In January 2014, Martin was issued a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card after passing a background check. This background check did not reveal his past criminal history. The FOID card allowed him to buy gun and ammunition. In March 2014, Martin purchased a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun from an Aurora gun dealer. According to the police, he applied for a concealed carry permit five days later, which required a fingerprinting and background check. His application for a concealed carry permit was rejected and his FOID card was revoked. But there was no indication that authorities even confiscated his gun.

WHAT IS AN ACTIVE SHOOTER?

The United States Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms, and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.” According to a 2018 report from the BLS, workplace shootings went up by 83 cases to 394 total from 2015 to 2016, and they comprised 79 percent of all workplace homicides in 2016.

ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENTS AND WORKPLACE VIOLENCE 

For companies, an active shooter incident represents one of the worst-case scenarios of workplace violence. According to an FBI study, active shooter incidents have increased every year since 2000 with an average increase of 11.4 incidents a year. Based on statistics, you are 18 times more likely to encounter workplace violence and an active shooter situation than a fire.  As these tragedies continue to occur more regularly and with increased severity, the concern of a workplace violent act or the likelihood of an active shooter must be seriously considered.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit group that tracks incidents of gun violence, there have been well over 300 mass shootings in the United States in 2018. Mass shootings are defined by that group as incidents where 4 or more people are shot or killed in the same general time and location. Given the prevalence of these types of events, more schools, offices, and other places where the public gathers are focusing on training and preparedness. No less than 3 federal agencies produce literature and materials for use by local law enforcement, businesses, churches and schools to prepare for these types of scenarios.

Uniform among all the training and guidance materials is that organizations must begin planning for these types of scenarios. At a minimum, evacuation plans should be created and reviewed with employees. Staff should be informed of the proper steps to take should an active shooter event occur.

IS WORKPLACE VIOLENCE MORE PREVALENT IN CERTAIN JOBS?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are certain professions which have a higher percentage of workplace deaths due to homicide:

Workplace violence and active shooter scenarios, while more prevalent in higher density urban populations centers and commercial environments, can happen anywhere and at any time. This dynamic rise in incidents of violence makes it necessary for business and community leaders to put proactive measures in place that decrease the likelihood of an incident from occurring and reduces the impact if it does. Most companies do go to great lengths to protect employees from danger, such as fire drills, safety equipment and extensive courses of safety instruction that encompass standard corporate procedures. With respect to workplace violence, however, most companies are unprepared and vulnerable.

  1. Recognize workplace risk and vulnerability factors. Organizations should perform a realistic and comprehensive risk assessment to identify the security vulnerabilities of the business and facilities to an active shooter event. Factors that companies should take into account include: Does the business require early morning or late-night shifts? Can the company control who enters the building or job site? Do employees work with money or prescription medications? Are their areas of poor lighting on the premises? Do employees deal with volatile customers/clients regularly?
  2. Implement Security Measures. Providing a secure and physically safe workplace is part of any sound approach for preventing workplace violence. Companies can use a variety of security measures to help ensure safety. While the measures used depend on the resources available in the area, these safeguards may include coded card keys and employee photo ID badges for access to secure areas; camera surveillance systems, on-site guard services; and other appropriate security measures such as metal detectors.
  3. Create a zero-tolerance workplace violence policy. Cultivate a culture of respect and trust amongst employees and management and eradicate a bad culture of bullying or harassment by creating a zero-tolerance workplace violence policy. The policy should be plainly worded and specify how the employer classifies workplace violence, the conduct the policy prohibits, methods for reporting violations, and how these reports will be investigated. It’s also important that employees understand the consequences of such behavior, which should include disciplinary or other undesirable actions up to and including termination and/or criminal charges.
  4. Develop a workplace violence prevention program. The workplace violence prevention program can stand alone or it can be integrated into your injury and illness prevention program. Regardless, it’s essential that all employees (to include managers and supervisors) be familiar with the company policy and program. Employees should also hold discussions so that they know how to manage bullying, frightening, or violent incidents. Employers should schedule periodic training sessions with employees to make sure they recognize the responsibilities they have in preventing workplace violence. Those responsibilities include accurate reporting, keeping a record of all occurrences or suspected occurrences, and avoiding potentially dangerous situations whenever possible.
  5. Provide routine workplace violence prevention training. Simply put, it’s every employer’s duty to strive toward protecting and safeguarding their employees by training them to respond appropriately to active shooters. 70% of active shooter incidents occur in businesses versus campuses. If your workforce is not trained on how to respond responsibly in this type of situation, they might not know how to escape alive. It’s not enough to have a strategy. You must communicate that strategy and each of these methods to your employees. Training them before such an incident actually occurs will help to bolster prevention protocols at your workplace. Moreover, it’s important to distinguish the different types of training needed for employees versus management, as both will have a unique role in a crisis situation. Lastly, it’s important to remember that training does not necessarily equal learning. Training should be developed and delivered based on sound adult learning principles.
  6. Conduct Active Shooter Drill. Despite the up rise of active shooting incidents, companies still do not perform active shooter drills, even though nearly 50% of corporations with an excess of 1,000 employees experience workplace violence annually (Hart, 2016). Active shooter drills should be established and conducted in such a way so as not to frighten or alarm employees. They should have an educational focus and be designed to aid employees in retaining information that may save lives.

Should you have any questions about business law or any other laws that may affect your business, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

To participate at no-charge in a WPD webinar series regarding Workplace Violence, please send an email request to vgrazian@wpdlegal.com

 

MARCH 21st  @ 1:00 PM: Workplace Violence Part 1 – Active Shooting Incidents

April 4th @ 1:00 PM: Workplace Violence Part 2 – Domestic Violence at Work

APRIL 18th @ 1:00 PM: Workplace Violence Part 3 – Tips to Employers for a Proactive  Prevention Program

                      Unable to attend the webinar? Request the recorded version.

To subscribe to our business e-newsletter, pleases send an email request to www.info@wpdlegal.com

 

PAOLA ASCENCIO – ELECTED AS THE NEW CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS 2019-2020!

Paola Ascencio, Paralegal of Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC, was nominated and elected as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois for the 2019-2020!

Each spring semester, pre-law students from around the state of Illinois participate in the Model Illinois Government simulation. Paola competed at the 41st Annual Model Illinois Government competition in Springfield, IL this past weekend with her Northern Illinois University team. Their team competed as attorneys, lobbyists, legislators and delegates for a simulation of the government processes that occur in the House of Representatives, Senate and Supreme Court of Illinois. There were a total of 17 schools and 250 students who participated from around the State of Illinois. The NIU Moot Court team advanced to quarter-finals and Paola took home the individual attorney award for Top Novice Attorney in the competition. Paola’s team also was awarded for Best Outstanding Large Delegation of the competition.

Paola will be returning next year to preside over the Moot Court competition as highest ranking Judge of our state judiciary. Paola will be joined by 2 other (female) members of their NIU team who were nominated and elected as Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor to represent the State of Illinois

 

 

 

 

IMMIGRATION ALERT: TIME IS RUNNING OUT

There is Still Time to Prepare for H-1B Cap Filings.

Now is the time of year when employers should identify any current or future employees who may require a cap-subject H-1B petition to work in the U.S. Under current rules, the first day to file H-1B cap petitions is April 1, 2019, for an employment start date of October 1, 2019.

Last year, USCIS received more than 190,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions, far surpassing the 85,000 visas available, and the H-1B cap petition quota was reached during the first week of filing for the sixth consecutive year. We anticipate that the H-1B quota will be reached quickly again this year. This means that employers should plan to file all H-1B cap petitions by April 1, 2019. Prior to filing any petitions, employers must work proactively with counsel to assess cases for eligibility, obtain credential evaluations, and secure Labor Condition Applications from the U.S. Department of Labor.

With an increasing demand for H-1B workers, we encourage employers to identify potential H-1B cap cases now and work with immigration counsel to take appropriate steps to ensure timely preparation and filing of cases.

Who Should Be Considered for an H-1B Cap Petition?

Potential beneficiaries include, but are not limited to:

  • New hires from overseas
  • F-1 students completing a qualifying course of study or working pursuant to Optional Practical Training
  • Some L-1 visa holders
  • TN, E-3 and other nonimmigrant status holders who wish to change to H-1B status in the coming year
  • H-4 Dependent EAD holders. The Administration has indicated that it intends to eliminate work authorization eligibility for the H-4 spouses of certain H-1B visa holders. Employers may wish to consider filing cap petitions for these employees. In addition, employers may wish to evaluate options for L-2 or E dependent EAD holders
  • Certain DACA recipients

What H-1B Petitions are Not Subject to the Cap?

Certain H-1B petitions are not counted against the annual cap, including:

  • Individuals in H-1B Status Previously Counted Against the Cap. In most cases, individuals who were counted against the cap in a previous fiscal year are not subject to the current cap. This includes extensions of status for current H-1B visa holders, changes in the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, and most petitions for changes of H-1B employers and petitions for concurrent employment in a second H-1B position.
  • Petitions for Exempt Organizations. H-1B petitions for employment at institutions of higher learning or related/affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations, and governmental research organizations are cap-exempt.

We will be closely monitoring all proposed changes to policy and procedure and will provide updates. If you have any questions about this alert or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847) 253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

To subscribe to our business e-newsletter, please send an email request to www.info@wpdlegal.com.

GOVERNOR PRITZKER SIGNS LAW RAISING ILLINOIS MINIMUM WAGE TO $15 AN HOUR BY 2025

Today, Gov. Pritzker signed the Senate Bill 1 to raise the minimum wage for Illinois, and Illinois employers must be prepared for a series of significant wage increases. According to this new law, the state’s minimum wage would jump from its current $8.25 to $15 over the next five years. The first wage hike is set to go into effect on Jan. 1 of next year, when the state minimum wage will increase to $9.25 an hour and then to $10 an hour July 1, 2020. It would then increase each year by $1 an hour until it hits $15 an hour in 2025.[/caption]

This minimum wage hike will most likely affect other workers who have higher minimum wage by statute, such as the Chicago ($12) and Cook County ($11), which should follow suit with an increase in the near future as well. This increase will also have a cascading effect for employees who are currently making more than minimum wage, as they may request jumps I their hourly rate.

Employers Should Be Prepared

Employers should be vigilant and determine a course of action to remain in compliance with the upcoming changes in these wage rates. This includes raising employees’ salaries on the new effective dates, evaluating the classifications of hourly employees to salary employees, and/or considering paying smaller bonuses in light of the salary increases they must grant. In any event, employers should plan ahead and comply with the new law. Violations of minimum wage laws—even if unintentional—are costly. Employers may be liable not only for minimum wage underpayments and/or back pay or overtime compensation, but also for interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and potentially liquidated damages equal to double the amount owed to the underpaid employee.

If you require any additional information concerning minimum wage rates or about any other employment-related issues, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This announcement constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.