According to the Illinois ‘at-will’ employment doctrine, employers can fire employees for any reason. However, certain classes are protected and there are a few exceptions to this rule: the main one being a ‘retaliatory discharge.’ If an employer fires an employee out of retaliation for any reason, the employee can press retaliatory discharge charges against them.
Some common examples of retaliatory actions the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers includes employers who:
- Scolded the employee;
- Physically and verbally abused the employee;
- Shifted the employee to less desirable position;
- Gave the employee an unfair or unjustified performance evaluation;
- Made work difficult for the employee deliberately;
- Threatened the employee with termination or fired them.
Making a Retaliatory Discharge Claim
According to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act, unfairly terminated employees have to prove the following elements to file this claim:
- The termination is related to employee rights, which are outlined under the act;
- They were employees before suffering the work related injury;
- They are exercising a right mentioned in the act.
The key is to prove the retaliatory action by the employer is a direct violation of the protected rights of the employee. Once that is determined, you can file a claim.
Here is an example: If you think you are about to be fired because you applied to receive for Worker’s Compensation benefits, you need to:
- Record all the events and conversations you think are relevant enough for your claim. This includes all emails and written communication you exchanged with your employer that you can use against them. This includes threatening message or other incriminating statements they may have made in front of colleagues. Get a written statement from them if possible before filing the lawsuit.
- Immediately file an application for the Adjustment of Claim with the Industrial Commission. This will ensure your employer cannot claim they were not aware you had filed to receive the Worker’s Compensation benefits.
Bear in mind you only have two (2) years from the date of the termination to file this claim in court. Failure to do so can forfeit your rights under Section 4(h) of the act.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney for a Retaliatory Discharge Claim
In Illinois, state and federal laws protect employee rights. If you think you are about to be fired because of reasons that violate those rights, you can file a claim in court. However, if you do not know how to assert that right legally, you may suffer in the end.
This is where the attorneys from the Law Office of Michael T. Smith can prove invaluable. Don’t hesitate to come forward and get the compensation you deserve. We have more than three decades of experience fighting for the rights of employees in Schaumburg, IL and the surrounding states and have litigated more than 500 cases in court. Get in touch with us for a consultation today.