At S.T. Legal Group, we are well aware that Illinois is an “employment-at-will state,” meaning a state in which an employer or employee can terminate the work relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Even so, in Illinois, many actions can be considered “wrongful termination,” leading to a judicial decision that the wronged party is entitled to damages.
If you find yourself in a situation in which you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, or in which you have been falsely accused of wrongfully terminating an employee, you should contact S.T. Legal Group for an in-depth evaluation of your case. Attorney Diana Taylor is experienced in handling this complex issue on both sides, and will take the time necessary to analyze the specifics of your case to protect your interests.
Defining Wrongful Termination
There are four basic reasons that the end of an employment relationship may be considered wrongful termination in Illinois:
While your employer can terminate your employment “at will,” she or he cannot terminate you for reasons based on categories protected by anti-discrimination laws, such as:
- Age (40 years and older)
- Citizenship status
- Sex or gender
- Race, ethnicity or national origin
- Marital status
- Pregnancy or childbirth
- Medical or Disability
- Sexual orientation or gender identity
- Veteran or military status
- Genetic information
- Arrest record
- Being under an order of protection, and
- Lack of a permanent mailing address
The size of the company is relevant to how these laws apply, however. In some cases, termination for discriminatory reasons applies only in companies with 15 or more employees. State and local law, however, essentially apply to all employers. Also, these categories are not as clear-cut as they may seem. It is essential to have a skilled wrongful termination attorney who knows the ins and outs of Illinois and federal law to protect your rights to fair treatment both in and out of the courtroom.
 Retaliation for Whistleblowing
A federal law, The Whistleblower Protection Act, protects federal employees who report “government illegality, waste, and corruption” from retaliation. Laws designed to protect non-government employees throughout the country, however, are inconsistent.
Although, in some states, only federal employees enjoy this protection while Illinois state law on this front is strong. Employees here are protected from retaliation in the workplace, including wrongful termination, by The Illinois Whistleblower Protection Act. This law prohibits retaliation against an employee for disclosure of information on a company’s violation of state or federal law.
There are many different types of illegal behavior an employee may report to the proper authorities, including:
- Unsafe working conditions
- Wage inequality
- Harassment or discrimination in the workplace
- Lack of accommodations for the disabled or pregnant or nursing women
- Illegal or fraudulent activity on the part of the employer
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the enforcer of many whistleblower provisions, such as violations of:
- Health and safety codes (e.g.unsanitary handling or food, worksite dangers)
- Production or transport of hazardous consumer products
- Environmental violations (e.g. improper ventilation, illegal waste disposal)
- Motor vehicle, public transportation, maritime, or railroad violations
- Tax law and/or securities fraud
OSHA protects whistleblowers from being wrongfully terminated for testifying to, and providing evidence of gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”
 In Violation of Written Contracts or Implied Promises
If you have been hired under a written contract that ensures your job security for a certain length of time, you are no longer considered an “at-will” employee. Instead, your employer is required by law to follow the rules stipulated in the employee handbook if she/he desires to terminate your work relationship. Therefore, our capable team may be able to use the contract itself, as well as the guidelines outlined in the employment manual, to hold your employer to retain you according to the terms stated in the contract.
S.T. Legal Group will examine not only an existing contract, but any other written materials (e.g. emails, texts) that state or imply that your employment is not “at-will.” We will also take note of how long you have worked for the company, and whether you have had promotions and positive reviews. Any of these may have bearing on an implied understanding that you were not vulnerable to at-will termination.
 In Violation of Public Policy Regarding Legitimate Time Off
Employees are legally entitled to particular types of time off from their duties at the workplace according to public policy, without threat of termination. These excused absences are in addition to any vacation or sick days included in their original employment agreement. Such time off is permitted for:
- Jury duty
- Military or National Guard duty service
- Legal use of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
This means that you may have a good case for wrongful termination if you were, for example, absent from work to care for a sick family member.
How S.T. Legal Group Can Help with Wrongful Termination
Our legal experience will stand you in good stead as we protect you from wrongful termination or false claims of such action. We will:
- Analyze your case and examine all pertinent evidence
- Request or file subpoenas to obtain necessary evidence.
- Interview your coworkers and supervisors about the case
- Handle all communication with opposing attorneys
- Fight tirelessly during negotiations and in the courtroom to win you damages
Depending on your particular situation you may be awarded substantial damages for lost wages, court costs, legal fees, and even, in some cases, pain and suffering. We may also be able to have you reinstated in your job.
When the Whistleblower Is Wrong
Whether you are an employer or an employer, though your rights are protected by law, it is critical that you have a competent wrongful termination lawyer, like Diana Taylor of S.T. Legal Group, fighting for your cause. As an employer, your attorney will make certain that any evidence of your wrongdoing is thoroughly investigated and that, if the whistleblowing employee has ulterior motives for lying, he or she will be exposed. In such a case, the employee fabricating the case may be criminally prosecuted.
On the other hand, if you are the whistleblower and the charges you have brought are unintentionally mistaken, or do not measure up to the standard necessary for a more thorough investigation, our attorney will protect you from retaliation for raising the question, as long as you acted in good faith.
Contact Our Deerfield Wrongful Termination Attorney
Wrongful termination can be a complicated legal issue. Because it can affect both the employee and the employer in terms of finances and reputation, it is likely to be taken very seriously by both parties. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced wrongful termination attorney like Diana Taylor at your side. Contact S.T. Legal Group today for an evaluation of your wrongful termination case.