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Introducing New Reimbursement Laws for Employees in Illinois

Are you an employer who requires her employees to buy their own uniforms? Or are you an employee who uses his personal cell phone for work purposes? Well, as of January 1, 2019, that all changes. Illinois amended the Illinois Wage Payment and Employment Act to now require that employers 'reimburse an employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee's scope of employment and directly related to services performed for the employer.' See 820 ILCS 115/9.5. 'Necessary expenditures' means 'all reasonable expenditures or losses required of the employee in the discharge of employment duties and that inure to the primary benefit of the employer.'

An employer is not responsible for reimbursing the following:


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I talk a lot about contracts. So here is a seminar I delivered recently on contracts 101. You can easily listen to this on your next commute!

(Video length: 15 mins)


A lot of clients come to me, often after being fired, telling me their boss discriminated against them. Their boss is 'racist' they say. However, discrimination and illegal firing of employers is very specific and often hard to prove.

Let's start with what the general rights of an employee and having a job are. Most employees are at-will employees. This means an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason. Employees must understand that they have no legal right to be employed by the employer. Once you start from this basic fact, it is easier to understand what rights employers do have.

When it comes to workplace discrimination, we need to understand what discrimination is. Illegal discrimination applies only to certain 'protected classes' of people. In Illinois, these protected classes are:


Spring is right around the corner and it's time to go out and about again with your children. If you are a parent, that means school it's time for more field trips and attending birthday parties. And with field trips and birthdays at certain venues, you, parent, must sign a waiver. Indeed, you are tasked with signing away your child's legal rights in the event of an injury.

Despite the routineness of this signing away of our children's legal right of holding a vendor legally accountable, such waivers are not enforceable in Illinois. That's right – just because you signed it, doesn't mean the waiver means anything.

Illinois courts do not enforce them. Period. Under Illinois law, when a minor is involved in litigation, she is a ward of the court and the court has a duty and broad discretion to protect the child's interests. This rule is extended to claims of injury by minor children. Ultimately, Illinois courts have held that a parent waiving their child's rights is against this rule and thus, against public policy. In initial caselaw, courts held that parents and legal guardians can not waive a minor-child's rights after an injury. What this means for parents is that if your child is injured due to a business' negligence, then definitely consider your legal options (whether your child will win is a separate issue). What if the minor-child signed their own legal waiver? Also 'nope.' Contracts (which what a waiver is) where a minor is a party can be voided by the minor.


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"I don't know what to do. We agreed about this in a conversation, but we didn't sign any contracts." This is a common concern that clients come to me with. Many people mistakenly believe that an oral agreement is meaningless. Fortunately, that is not the case and having an oral contract is still a contract. However, reader beware, contract law is very complicated for a few reasons: 1) contract law has multiple bases, specifically statute and caselaw (in other words, you have to look to multiple places to "figure out" the law), 2) it is open to a lot of interpretation, and 3) the law surrounding a specific contract can change based on the subject matter of the contract (eg, consumer contract, construction contract, or real estate contract).

So what are your options if you have an oral contract? Your options are the largely same as if you had a written contract. You can seek to enforce it through a lawsuit, if necessary. However, there are some caveats. Firstly, there are some contracts that are required to be in writing because of the law known as the Statute of Frauds. The Statute of Frauds calls for certain types of contracts to be in writing such as for the sale of land or a contract that involves a time of more than one year. Further, there is the Uniform Commercial Code that requires writing for the sale of goods over $500.00. These statutes are still pretty lax and do not require a formal contract but simply a "memorandum" or "writing." This could simply be an email exchange. Additionally, courts actually do not like enforcing the Statute of Frauds and have created the well-established exception to the Statute of Frauds if the party seeking to enforce the oral contract has performed her part of the agreement. To be clear, there is a lot more to this area of law, which can get complicated and vary greatly case-by-case, so it's important to speak with an attorney if you find yourself in this situation. The point here is simply that a contract can exist and be enforceable, even if it is not in writing.

The second caveat is the differing statute of limitations between oral and written contracts. In Illinois, a statute of limitations for an oral contract is five years whereas for a written contract, it is ten years. Those are still pretty generous statute of limitations, but it is important to be aware of these time constraints.

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