Remote Work and Noncompetes: Do Geographic Restrictions Still Matter?

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Employees often are a nonprofit’s greatest asset. Passionate for the cause, knowledgeable about the organization’s donors and operations, and promoting the mission with loyal dedication, they can be nothing short of invaluable. But what happens if an employee leaves a nonprofit, taking that knowledge and experience elsewhere – perhaps to another nonprofit with a similar mission focus and perhaps even competing financial sources and participant activities? May the first nonprofit employer prohibit the employee from “competing” as part of the person’s new work?

Personnel Handbooks – For Employees, Volunteers, and Others Too?

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Many nonprofits use employee handbooks to serve the valuable functions of providing their employees with advance notice of work expectations, applicable requirements, and other responsibilities for a productive and mutually beneficial relationship. Such goals may likewise apply to volunteers serving nonprofits and even independent contractors, at least to a certain extent. Correspondingly, it may be helpful to maintain a supervisory handbook for more effective management of all workers - whether employees, volunteers, or contractors.

Illinois’ New Non-Compete Employment Law

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May employers prospectively restrict employees from “competing” – that is, from obtaining future employment that could harm their current employers - such as in terms of sales, market share, and other measurable organizational success? Less so now than before, per recent changes in Illinois employment law, as non-compete provisions must be carefully and narrowly circumscribed to be enforceable. Employers with employees in other states should note too the more generally applicable legal principles.

Some—Not All—Nonprofits Are Subject to HIPAA Requirements

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All nonprofits should maintain confidentiality of medical information related to their employees, program participants, and volunteers. Is such information subject to “HIPAA?” For many organizations, the answer is no – HIPAA does not apply across the board to all medical information generally. But privacy concerns may nonetheless warrant protection of such sensitive information. Such protection may be acutely important amidst current COVID times, with individuals’ medical information the subject of intense interest to employers, government agencies, and others.

Nonprofit Holiday Highlights

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The year 2021 is quickly winding up, and 2022 is just across the horizon! Our law firm’s attorneys and paralegals deeply value the honor and opportunity to assist so many amazing nonprofit organizations and their incredible leaders, and to help advance their compelling and worthwhile missions. Thank you for this opportunity to serve as trusted legal advisors providing client-focused solutions, creative approaches to advance clients’ interests, and vibrant community engagement to help the nonprofit sector flourish. As a parting gift for this year, we’d like to share some holiday cheer – and what better way than through providing links to some key W&O blog articles across our nonprofit practice groups? We hope the W&O blog will continue to be a valuable resource for you!

Annual Anti-Harassment Training - Good Idea!

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With the year’s end fast approaching, now is a good time to reflect on many things – and what better than nonprofit legal compliance and related best practices? Of course! One key area is annual anti-harassment training, which is legally required for Illinois employers with 15 or more employees and recommended otherwise for optimal work conditions and risk minimization. 

Employer Alert: Illinois "Secure Choice” Mandatory Retirement Program Expands

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Does your nonprofit offer a retirement plan? In Illinois, the “Secure Choice Saving Program Act” requires larger employers to participate in a state-sponsored retirement program, but not if they offer their own retirement plans. The Act thus essentially motivates employers to offer retirement programs benefits, as many do. Since retirement plan benefits may carry substantial administrative expenses, the tendency is for only larger employers to offer them. Smaller employers may or may not provide retirement benefits, such as 403(b) plans for religious organizations and other Section 501(c)(3) organizations. The Act’s reach recently expanded to cover smaller employers, but thankfully with similar exclusions.

Update on Vaccine Mandate Litigation: Keep Watching...

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Is your nonprofit subject to a COVID vaccine requirement for its employees? In the last few months, such “mandates” have been issued for “large” employers (i.e., with at least 100 employees), federal contractors, federal employees, and medical workers. Correspondingly, a flurry of litigation has erupted, with dozens of states, businesses, religious organizations, and other nonprofits challenging such mandates on a plethora of constitutional, procedural, and other legal grounds. We reported recently on OSHA’s large employer mandate, and now we provide an update based on a federal court ruling and other important developments. – with implications for the OSHA mandate as well as similar employment directives. Key takeaway: watch closely for new legal developments!

OSHA's Vaccine Mandate for Large Employers: What to Do Now?

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On November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an “emergency temporary standard” (ETS) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (Covid) transmission in the workplace and to protect unvaccinated workers from contracting the virus at work (Vaccine ETS). This Vaccine ETS applies nationwide to employers with 100 or more employees. Under the Vaccine ETS, employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory Covid vaccine policy and determine vaccination status of employees within 30 days, then continue with enforcement measures within 60 days.

EEOC and Illinois Updates: COVID-Related Religious Exemptions

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In COVID time, the world continues to spin at a lightning-fast pace. Workers across the country are increasingly facing employers’ demands to get a COVID shot or to lose their jobs. A host of issues accompanies such requirement - public policy, legal, moral, religious, health, and political – and such issues can be highly divisive. On the religious aspects, two important developments occurred this week. First, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued updated guidance addressing key aspects of religious exemptions. Second, with respect to Illinois workplaces, the Illinois state legislature moved swiftly to sharply curtail religious right of conscience protections – with the Governor’s expected approval to follow.


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