CHICAGO EMPLOYMENT LAWYERLEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR EMPLOYEES
Employment lawyer Michael J. Merrick, the founding member of Merrick Law Firm LLC, has offices in Chicago and Omaha and represents clients primarily in Illinois and Nebraska. He has over 20 years of employment law experience and his clients and peers, other lawyers and judges, rate him as "AV/Preeminent," Martindale-Hubbell's highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards. He has also been given the honor of being named a Super Lawyer from 2012 through 2017 as one of the top 5% of practicing employment lawyers in Illinois. Mr. Merrick is also listed in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers survey of Illinois lawyers for representing individuals in employment law.
The firm is engaged in the practice of employment law exclusively representing individuals in disputes against employers of all sizes, from small local businesses to the largest corporations. Employers are backed by HR professionals, in-house counsel and outside lawyers. Merrick Law Firm LLC is dedicated to leveling the playing field for the employees we represent. We represent executives, professionals, managers, and other employees in all industries. Our professional services include providing legal advice to our clients, negotiating employment agreements and severance packages, and litigating wrongful termination claims, to name just a few examples. You may browse through our website for an overview of employment law and click on the links to the right for more information about all of our practice areas. Please contact us if you need legal representation by a Chicago employment attorney.
Serious Illness and Disability
An increasingly significant focus of our practice is representing people with serious illnesses and disabilities. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) covers employees with permanent impairments such as some forms of blindness; employees who have had serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS) and heart attacks; and employees with temporary impairments from workplace injuries or accidents outside of work. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities that will allow them to perform their job duties and keep their jobs. One common accommodation is to provide a medical leave of absence when an employee is temporarily incapacitated or needs time off work for medical treatment and recovery. The ADA also makes it unlawful for an employer to terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee because he or she has a disability, has a medical record of a disability, the employer erroneously perceives that the employee has a disability even if the employee does not have an actual disability, or if the employee is associated with someone with a disability such as a family member. In addition, the ADA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who have exercised rights under the ADA, for example by requesting a reasonable accommodation such as a medical leave of absence, and employees who have complained about disability discrimination. Most states and many local governments also have a fair employment practices act (FEPA) that provides protections similar to those under the ADA.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave per year to be taken continuously or on an intermittent basis to allow employees to care for their own serious health conditions or those of family members. The Act requires employers to return employees to their positions or substantially equivalent ones when they return to work from FMLA leave. The FMLA covers disabilities as defined under the ADA and also other serious health conditions that due not rise to the level of a disability. In addition to these substantive rights, the FMLA makes it unlawful to discriminate or retaliate against an employee who has requested or taken FMLA leave.
We represent currently-employed individuals who are in the midst of dealing with challenges presented by serious illness or other disability, and former employees who believe their termination was related to their disability or medical leave.
Contracts, Non-competes & Severance
Another focus of our practice is assisting clients who are in the process of starting new employment or leaving an existing position. This representation includes reviewing, revising, drafting and negotiating employment agreements and non-competes, also known as restrictive covenants, advising clients regarding their rights under these agreements and helping clients develop an exit strategy. We also review and negotiate severance packages for employees who have been terminated as part of a group going through a reduction-in-force (RIF) or reorganization and employees who have been individually terminated. If a satisfactory agreed resolution is unavailable, we also represent employees bringing legal action for breach of contract and other wrongful termination claims.
Most client matters we handle also include a retaliation claim. For example, if a female employee who has been sexually harassed in the workplace complains about the harassment to human resources and is then fired for no legitimate reason, she has an underlying claim for sexual harassment and a claim for retaliation stemming from her termination. Or if an employee is terminated after requesting a medical leave of absence, he has potential claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act regarding the employer’s failure to provide him with medical leave and retaliation claims regarding his termination. In fact, we find that the retaliation claims are often stronger than the underlying claim. If you engage in statutorily “protected activity” such as complaining about discrimination or other unlawful conduct, be on the lookout for any negative reactions from your employer which may be evidence of retaliation.