Whether you saw something that wasn’t right at work or were asked to participate in an illegal activity by your superiors, you have the right to report it. However, what your employer doesn’t have the right to do is to fire or demote you for reporting it. When an employer retaliates against an employee by firing him or her for reporting a legal, environmental, or ethical issue, these are grounds for wrongful termination. And as you can probably tell by its name, wrongful termination is illegal.
To put it more simply, retaliation is any action that an employer takes to punish an employee for exercising his or her right in the workplace or for reporting wrongdoing. Retaliation often looks like:
- Reduction in pay;
- Denial of benefits, promotions, and/or overtime;
- Reduction of your work hours; or
- Treatment that causes intimidation or fearfulness.
So what types of issues do you have the legal right to report without fear of retaliation? Here are some of them:
- Discrimination in the workplace;
- Prohibiting employees from taking breaks;
- Failing to pay employees minimum wage;
- Workplace harassment;
- Denying employees their right to file for Workers’ Compensation;
- Denying employees the right to legally protected leave; and
- Workplace health or safety violations.
You may also have heard the term “whistleblowing” in reference to retaliation. Whistleblowing is the reporting of illegal conduct (aside from violations against you personally). This is more common in industries such as finance and includes various illegal actions such as:
- Production of faulty products
- Shareholder fraud; and
- Lying on tax returns.
What Should You Do?
The first thing to do if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated is to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Illinois Employment Law Attorney who can assess your specific case and help to lead you in the right direction.
Depending upon the specific facts and circumstances of your case, you may need to report the wrongdoing to the appropriate government agency. For example, if you have been terminated for reporting discrimination you would have to first file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
When you are dealing with the many repercussions of being wrongfully terminated, it can be really difficult to know how to move forward in your best interest. It’s important to understand that you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages or in some cases, punitive damages for physical or emotional harm.
ST Legal Group Can Help
When you have been wrongfully treated in the workplace, you may not know how to assert your rights. That’s where the attorneys at ST Legal Group can help. We understand what’s at stake and are here to ensure that your rights are upheld. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!