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How to Identify a Wrongful Termination

How to Identify a Wrongful Termination

Like most other jurisdictions, Illinois is an at-will employment state. Most employees can quit at any time for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. Likewise, employers can fire workers at any time for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. However, employers cannot fire workers for an illegal reason. If that happens, the employer has wrongfully terminated the employee.

The experienced Chicago wrongful termination lawyers at the Law Office of Mitchell Kline routinely handle these matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions. So, we are familiar with all the rules, including the unwritten ones. As a result, we are able to strongly stand up for your legal and financial rights. In fact, thanks to our experience and diligence, we are normally able to settle these claims out of court.

Illegal Termination Reasons

Most Chicagoland workers are in at least one protected class. Examples include ethnicity, gender, disability, age, and religion. These categories are broad. For example, religious discrimination laws are not limited to practices or beliefs that are widely-held or orthodox. These practices and beliefs must only be individually sincere.

It is also illegal to terminate employees for participating in a protected activity. Labor organization is a protected activity. So is political expression, at least in many cases. Reporting misconduct, like harassment or discrimination, is also a protected activity. So is encouraging someone else to report misconduct or voluntarily participating in an investigation in some way.

The termination itself could be actual or constructive. Actual termination is a pink slip. Constructive termination happens when employers make things so bad that the employee is forced to quit. Non-terminated victims also have legal rights, as long as they suffered from some adverse action before, during, or after the employer-employee relationship began.

Your Claim for Damages

Initially, wrongful termination victims must make a prima facie case. This case is usually membership in a protected class or participation in a protected activity and actual or constructive termination. A prima facie case is fairly straightforward.

Things quickly get more complicated. Employers can refute a prima facie case by showing a discrimination-neutral reason for the termination. Disciplinary problems are a good example. Attendance issues and insubordination are good illustrations as well.

However, employers do not have the last word. Frequently, the “neutral basis” is simply a pretext for discrimination. If two workers of different ethnicities are late for work and only the nonwhite worker was fired, the employer’s excuse will not hold up in court.

Most wrongful termination claims settle out of court. These settlements hasten the outcome of the case and give the litigants more control over the result. In a court of law, out-of-court settlements usually do not include admissions of liability. But in the court of public opinion, if the employer pays damages, the employer is admitting fault.

Speaking of damages, wrongful termination case outcomes usually include corrective action. Many employers must affirmatively and discernibly change their hiring or other practices.

Connect With a Dedicated Lawyer

Employers do not have the unlimited right to unilaterally terminate employees. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago wrongful termination lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. You have a limited amount of time to act. 

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