In Illinois, employees work at will, which means that they can be fired at any time and for any, or no reason. Although courts strictly enforce the employment at-will doctrine, they also recognize a series of exceptions to this rule. For instance, an employer cannot fire someone for discriminatory purposes, including those based on race, religion, sex, or another protected category. Employees can also not be fired in violation of an employment contract or in retaliation for exercising certain rights. Employers who ignore these rights can and should be held accountable for their actions, so if you were recently wrongfully terminated, it is important to contact a skilled Chicago wrongful termination attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses.
Under both federal and state law, employers cannot fire employees based on protected characteristics, which include:
However, some of these protections only apply to employees are employed by employers who hire at least 15 employees.
Employees are also protected from being fired for asserting certain rights, including the rights to:
These rights are guaranteed by state and federal law, so an employer who retaliates against an employee for exercising these rights by firing him or her can be held liable in a wrongful termination suit.
Although Illinois is an at-will employment state, some employers still choose to enter into oral or written contracts with their employees. In these cases, employees cannot be fired in violation of the terms of those contracts. However, an employee can be protected from termination even when a contract is not spoken or written, but is merely implied. For instance, an employee handbook that details specific procedural measures that must be taken before a person can be fired, creates an implied contract that until those steps are taken, a person will not be fired.
Before filing a wrongful termination claim in court, a person must file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights within 180 days of the discriminatory act. Wronged employees may also have to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. These procedures can be complicated, making it especially important for those who have been wrongfully terminated to contact an experienced attorney who can walk them through the process.
State and federal agencies both encourage employers and wrongfully terminated employees to go through the process of mediation as a means of reaching a settlement. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and a wronged employee will be required to file a claim in court, where he or she is eligible to receive specific damages, including:
If you live in Chicago and were wrongfully terminated, please contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline by calling (312) 558-1454 or by completing one of our brief contact forms and we’ll help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced wrongful termination attorney.