Client Alert


Labor and Employment Law Newsletter for Employers  August 2016
Tyler Bohman
FLSA Joint Employer Liability Now Affecting Even More Businesses
By Tyler J. Bohman, Esq.

The Department of Labor is expanding the applicability of joint employment to apply "expansively" even beyond traditional definitions and interpretations of who or what is a joint employer. The DOL states that this interpretation is an attempt to keep up with the increasing popularity of non-traditional employment relationships such as the use of staffing agencies and independent contractors and the declining use of "traditional" employment relationships. Employers must evaluate their potential status as joint employers to avoid potential liability.  Under the FLSA, if an employee is jointly employed by two or more employers, all the employee's weekly hours worked for every joint employer must be considered when computing minimum wage and overtime pay. Further, each and every joint employer of an employee is jointly and severally liable for any violations of the FLSA (meaning one employer, usually the one with the "deepest pockets", may be forced to pay an entire judgment or award though other employers were also at fault for the violations).

Questions? Contact Attorney Tyler J. Bohman in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at
Nancy Joerg
By Nancy E. Joerg, Esq.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law which prohibits employers (with at least 15 employees) from discriminating in the workplace based on such issues as religion.
Title VII specifically forbids companies from any of the following actions concerning religion in the workplace :
  • failing to hire or promote applicants or employees in a discriminatory fashion based on their religious beliefs or practices in any area of employment;
  • bullying or harassing employees because of their religious beliefs or practices;
  • turning down a requested reasonable accommodation (of an employee's religious beliefs) if the requested accommodation will not result in more than a de minimis cost on the employer; and,
  • retaliating against an employee who has engaged in protected religious activity. 

Questions? Contact Attorney Nancy E. Joerg in our St. Charles office at (630) 377-1554 or by email at
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Ryan Young
Seventh Circuit Appears Reluctant in Determining Title VII Does Not Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination
By Ryan L. Young, Esq.

Most people are aware of the EEOC's recent and highly publicized position that discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC's position has been applauded by LGBT advocates who have been unable to get Congress to amend Title VII to include sexual orientation as a protected class.  Despite the EEOC's position, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the dismissal of a professor's sexual orientation claim under Title VII.  And while the Court felt handcuffed by precedent concerning sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII, it did not hold back in addressing the inconsistencies of such precedent.  The Court implicitly urged the Supreme Court and/or Congress to resolve these inconsistencies in a way that would protect individuals from sexual orientation discrimination in employment.   

Questions? Contact Attorney Ryan L. Young in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at
Ryan M. Helgeson, Esq.
Ryan M. Helgeson
Moving Forward?  A Report From the Front Lines of Immigration Reform
By Ryan M. Helgeson, Esq.

I recently had the privilege to be one of the select attendees at a panel discussion featuring Mark Kirk (R), U.S. Senator of Illinois, Bob Dold (R), U.S. Congressman of Illinois, Mario Diaz Bolart (R), U.S. Congressman of Florida, and Christine Radogno (R), Illinois State Senator.  The discussion was titled "Moving Forward Commonsense Immigration Reform."  Hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, the panel discussion focused on the reasons immigration reform is necessary and why it will create benefits for everyone. 
The panel members began, as is to be expected in this highly-political season and at an event being covered by media, by highlighting their own successes in the area of immigration including introducing programs to help members of the military gain citizenship and to keep families united.  Recognizing that the current immigration system is broken and that the issue is not going away, the politicians emphasized the need for bi-partisan, comprehensive immigration reform, rather than piecemeal actions.  After identifying the danger posed by a potential Trump presidency and calling for the removal of hateful rhetoric from the national discourse, the panel focused on all the ways immigration reform would benefit the United States:

Questions? Contact Attorney Ryan Helgeson in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at
Walter J. Liszka
Pokémon Go - an Employer Dilemma? 
By: Walter J. Liszka, Esq.
Pokémon Go has taken the United States and the rest of the world by storm with an estimated 75 million downloads in the first three (3) weeks of its release. For the uninitiated (like the author), Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game, where users try to capture, train, and battle digitally animated creatures on their mobile devices. The author has more than enough trouble battling real life creatures than delving into animated adversaries!
Because users of the game have to pay strict attention to their phones, iPads, or other mobile devices, there have been instances where some people have, in fact, been injured or been accused of trespassing. Obviously, as Pokémon Go continues, it will have an effect on the workplace and Employers must be prepared to respond. 

Questions? Contact Attorney Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at
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About the Client Alert
The attorneys of Wessels Sherman have the superior experience, knowledge and leadership to aggressively represent your business nationwide, including St. Charles, Chicago and Cook County, Illinois; Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Davenport, Iowa and the entire Quad Cities area.
CLIENT ALERT Editor-in-Chief.....Walter J. Liszka
Minnesota........................................James B. Sherman
Wisconsin.........................................Alan E. Seneczko
Iowa..................................................Joseph H. Laverty
Illinois..............................................Nancy E. Joerg
WS Client Alert is a complimentary newsletter published periodically for clients and friends of Wessels Sherman. We reserve the right to limit distribution of our materials to representatives of management. The materials in this newsletter have been abridged from a variety of sources and are not necessarily applicable to a particular situation. The contents of this mailing should not be construed as legal advice. State laws vary. Readers should consult with legal counsel before taking any action on matters covered by this mailing.