December 1, 2021

Volume XI, Number 335

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Illinois Governor Signs Restrictive Covenant Bill Into Law

On August 13, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act (820 ILCS § 90), which imposes restrictions on the use of non-competition and non-solicitation (employee and customer) restrictive covenants for Illinois employees. The law takes effect on January 1, 2022, and only applies to restrictive covenants entered into after January 1, 2022.

Below are some of the key provisions of the law:

  • The law prohibits employers from entering into non-competition agreements with employees who earn $75,000 per year or less and also prohibits employers from entering into non-solicit agreements with employees who earn $45,000 per year or less.

  • For non-compete agreements, the salary threshold amounts will increase every five years by $5,000 until January 1, 2037, when the amount will equal $90,000.  For non-solicit agreements, the salary threshold amounts will increase every five years by $2,500 until January 1, 2037, when the amount will equal $52,500.

  • Employers will now be required to advise employees to consult with an attorney before entering into a non-compete or non-solicit agreement and must also provide employees at least 14 days to review the agreement and decide whether to sign. Employees have the option of signing the agreement before the 14-day period has ended.

  • Employers are prohibited from entering into restrictive covenants with employees who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic or under circumstances that are similar to the COVID-19 pandemic unless enforcement of the covenant not to compete includes compensation equivalent to the employee’s base salary at the time of termination for the period of enforcement minus compensation earned though subsequent employment during the period of enforcement.

  • If an employee prevails on a claim filed by an employer seeking to enforce a covenant not to compete or a covenant not to solicit, the employee can recover all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the employer regarding such claim. A court or arbitrator may also award appropriate relief.

Illinois employers should revisit their restrictive covenant agreements in light of these changes.

© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 231
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About this Author

Steven J Pearlman, Labor Employment Law Firm, Proskauer Law firm
Partner

Steven Pearlman is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the firm's Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group, resident in the Chicago office. Steven’s practice focuses on defending complex employment litigation involving claims of discrimination and harassment, wage-and-hour laws and breaches of restrictive covenants (e.g., non-competition agreements). He has successfully tried cases to verdict before judges and juries in Illinois, Florida and California, and defended what is reported to be the largest Illinois-only class action in the history of the U.S....

312-962-3545
Edward C. Young, Proskauer Rose, Harassment Lawyer, Labor Rights Attorney
Associate

Edward C. Young is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department. He represents companies nationwide in a broad range of employment issues, including discrimination, retaliation and harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Family Medical Leave Act, as well as other federal and state employment statutes and various common law torts. In addition, Eddie represents employers in trade secret matters and challenges to the independent contractor status of workers.

...

312-962-3595
Dakota D. Treece Labor Lawyer Proskauer Rose :aw Firm
Associate

Dakota Treece is an associate in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation and Arbitration Group. She completed her law degree at the DePaul University College of Law. 

+1.312.962.3506
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