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Employment Law

Wrongful Discharge/Retaliatory Discharge

In Illinois, an employer may discharge an “at-will” employee at any time and for any reason. However, the law places some limits on an employer’s right to discharge an “at-will” employee. Illinois has recognized the tort of retaliatory discharge. The tort of retaliatory discharge is an exception to the general rule that an “at-will” employee is terminable at any time for any or no cause. A discharged “at-will” employee may have legal recourse against his/her former employer for wrongful discharge/retaliatory discharge in following instances:

Retaliatory Discharge For Exercising Workers’s Compensation Rights

Your employer cannot terminate you for seeking compensation for a work related injury under the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act. 820 ILCS 305/4(h). Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free no obligation consultation as soon as possible if you believe that you were terminated for making a claim for worker’s compensation benefits against your employer.

Retaliatory Discharge Public Policy Exception

The public policy exception is a narrow exception to an employer’s right to discharge an “at-will” employee. An essential element to this cause of action is that the discharge must have violated a “clearly mandated public policy.” There is no precise definition of the term “clearly mandated policy.” Illinois courts generally find that policies affecting the health, property, lives, and safety of citizens will support a cause of action for retaliatory discharge. Courts have generally allowed retaliatory discharge claims when an employee has been discharged for reporting illegal or improper conduct, otherwise known as “whistle blowing.” If you believe that you were terminated in retaliation for reporting your employer’s illegal or improper conduct, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free no obligation consultation. Courts have found the tort of retaliatory discharge properly alleged in the following circumstances:

  1. Nursing home employee terminated for reporting violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Act and other health and safety regulations to the Illinois Department of Public Health properly stated a claim for common law retaliatory discharge. In another case a nursing home employee who reported to the nursing home administrator what she believed were instances of neglect at the nursing home properly stated a cause of action for retaliatory discharge. Unfortunately nursing homes commonly retaliate against employees that report or complain about neglect and abuse of nursing home residents to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  2. Employee terminated for reporting OSHA violations stated a cause of action for retaliatory discharge.
  3. Employee terminated for reporting employer’s health code violations stated a cause of action for retaliatory discharge.

Illinois Whistleblower Act 740 ILCS 174/1, et seq

The Illinois Whistleblower Act prevents an employer from retaliating against an employee for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of State or federal law, rule or regulation. The Illinois Whistleblower Act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for refusing to participate in a violation of State or federal law, rule, or regulation. The Illinois Whistleblower Act only protects employees that report an employer’s violation of State or federal law, rule, regulations to government or law enforcement agencies. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free no obligation consultation if you believe you were retaliated in violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act.

Employment Discrimination

It is generally a violation of both federal and Illinois law to disparately treat persons on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, religion, and national origin. It is a violation of law to harass employees on the basis of their race, gender, age, disability, religion, and national origin. Employment discrimination law is complex and requires assessment of the facts of each individual case to determine whether there is a meritorious case, and determine whether certain prerequisites have been followed, including but not limited to the timely filing of appropriate charges with various governmental regulatory agencies such as the EEOC and/or the Illinois Department of Human Rights before any lawsuit can be filed. As a result of a change in Illinois law, jury trials can now be sought in the Illinois Circuit Courts, making it necessary to determine whether a potential discrimination claim should be filed in either the Illinois Circuit Courts or the Federal District Courts. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects members of the armed forces from discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment (hiring, compensation, promotions, termination) and prohibits employers from retaliating against any employees involved in the investigation and enforcement of USERRA violations. The USERRA requires, in most cases, a member of the uniformed services be reinstated to the position he/she would have held had he/she not left for military service. If you believe your employer has violated the USERRA, you may have a right to file a private lawsuit. Remedies include: injunctive relief; lost wages and benefits; liquidated damages, if your employer’s violation of the USERRA was willful; and attorney’s fees and litigation costs. If you believe your rights have been violated under the USERRA, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., for a free consultation.

Federal Employer’s Liability Act

Railroad employees injured in the course of their employment have a cause of action against their employer under a federal statute known as the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), 46 U.S.C. §§51-59, rather than a worker’s compensation claim. FELA provides for a cause of action against any common carrier by railroad in interstate commerce arising out of the injury or death of an employee. The railroads have claim agents working hard to eliminate or significantly reduce an injured employee’s recovery. You should have an aggressive attorney working hard on your side, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., for a free no obligation consultation.