Wrongful Termination

People depend on their jobs for their economic security and to support themselves and their families.  Unexpected termination can cause significant damage to a person’s financial well-being. However, not all cases of termination are “wrongful” by law. An experienced Quad Cities employment attorney can explain when you might have a viable wrongful termination claim and whether you are eligible for compensation.

At-Will Employment in Illinois

Illinois is an “at-will” employment state, like most of the United States. This generally means that either party to the employment relationship may sever their relationship at any time without warning. An employee can quit without warning.  Likewise, an employer can terminate the employee at any time without warning. However, there are exceptions when an employer cannot terminate an employee.

Types of Wrongful Termination

While employers can generally terminate employees at any time, they cannot terminate an employee for an illegal reason. Common grounds for wrongful termination claims include the following:

  • Violation of an employment contract– While most employees are “at-will,” some have written, oral or implied employed contracts that provide them with additional rights. Employees with contracts can only be terminated for the reasons stated in the employment contract or only “for a cause.” An employee, with a contract, who is wrongfully terminated, may have a breach of contract claim against the employer.
  • Discrimination – Employers cannot terminate an employee due to membership in a protected class, such as race, sex, age, national origin, citizenship status, religion, marital status or pregnancy.
  • Retaliation – Illinois employers are also barred from terminating employees due to asserting their rights under the law, such as filing a wage claim, filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. Additionally, they cannot retaliate against employees who have cooperated or participated in an employment investigation brought by another employee under the law.
  • Termination for protected time off work –Employees in Illinois are protected by state and federal laws that allow them to take time off work in certain situations, such as military leave, jury duty, to vote, to see a spouse or child who has been deployed to military service, for medical reasons or to provide assistance to a family with medical leave.
  • Public policy violation– Employees may also have a right to file a wrongful termination claim if their termination is a violation of public policy, such as asserting rights under existing federal or state laws or reporting illegal activity of the employer. These situations are determined on a case-by-case basis, so it is important to have legal assistance.

Legal Relief for Wrongfully Dismissed Employees

John F. Doak can pursue all legal remedies available under the law for which you are eligible if you were wrongfully dismissed. Some of the available relief may include:

  • Back pay
  • Reinstatement
  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney fees and legal costs
  • Compensation for emotional distress

Learn More About Your Rights

If you would like more information on wrongful termination laws in Illinois or whether you may have a claim for wrongful termination, call John F. Doak at 309-797-3000.