Illinois is an at-will employment state, which means that employers can terminate the employer-employee relationship at any time, without reason or cause. However, there are statutory protections in place that protect employees from being fired due to discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, marital status, disability, or military service. Furthermore, an employee cannot be terminated or demoted for reporting an employer’s discriminatory practice.
Despite these restrictions, some employers still make employment-related decisions, such as pay cuts, termination, and demotion based on these protected categories. Fortunately, injured employees can be reinstated and receive back pay by filing a wrongful termination claim, so if you were recently unlawfully fired, it is crucial to retain an experienced Chicago wrongful termination attorney who can help you file a claim.
In addition to protecting employees from being fired for discriminatory purposes, state law prohibits employers from terminating employment relationships when the employee:
In Illinois, employment contracts can be written, oral, or implied. The first two types of contract require an employer to make an oral or written promise that he or she will not fire an employee for a certain period of time or without good cause. In an implied contract, on the other hand, an employer does not make an express promise, but behaves in a manner that creates a reasonable expectation that employment will continue. For example, if an employee handbook states that certain disciplinary steps and procedures are required before employment can be terminated, an employee may have an implied contract that employment will continue until those steps are taken.
State law also guarantees employees the right to file workers’ compensation claims when they are injured on the job. For this reason, an employer who chooses to fire an employee for filing a claim could face liability in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Under minimum wage laws, Illinois employees are entitled to $8.25 per hour. Furthermore, those who work more than 40 hours a week are entitled to overtime pay for every extra hour worked. When employees file claims against employers for failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime wages, employers are prohibited from firing them in retaliation.
Under state and federal law, employees are guaranteed leave in certain situations, including for:
When an employee attempts to take statutorily guaranteed leave and is fired as a result, he or she may be able to seek reinstatement and back pay by filing a wrongful termination claim.
Employers are not permitted to fire an employee based on discrimination or because the employee exercised a statutory right, so if you live in Chicago and were unlawfully terminated, please call us at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline at (312) 558-1454 to speak with an experienced wrongful termination attorney.