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Laws Protecting Employees from Retaliatory Discharge

Dec. 18, 2017

Retaliation is a form of discrimination that refers to a negative action by an employer against an employee for filing a complaint about an illegal conduct. This may include discrimination, failure to pay overtime, harassment, workplace safety violations, and others. A variety of state and federal statutes, along with Illinois common law, keeps an employee safe from retaliatory discharge when they engage in a certain conduct or deny being a part of any unlawful conduct.

State and Federal Laws for Retaliatory Discharge

The employment laws that protect workers from retaliation include:

  • The Equal Pay Act

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act

These laws are applicable in the following situations:

1. Workplace Discrimination and Harassment

An employer may not fire a worker for exercising their rights under the above laws, or for participating in an authorized investigation for any issues in the workplace, or for making a complaint about discrimination or harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or their own HR department.

2. Taking Leaves

An employer may not fire a worker for exercising their right to apply and take workers’ compensation leaves, take paid sick leaves, take time off to serve on a jury, take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or take any other protected time off from work in a legal manner.

3. Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

An employer may not penalize or fire a worker for filing a claim to get workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury.

4. Health and Safety Violations

An employer may not fire a worker for making a complaint for violations pertaining to workplace health and safety standards to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or to a concerned department within the company.

5. Wage and Working Hours

An employer may not fire a worker for making a complaint about failure to pay the minimum wage or overtime, illegally keep the rightful portion of commission, or deny legally required breaks to the Department of Labor or to a concerned department within the company.

Compensation for Retaliatory Discharge Claims

If you are successfully about to establish your claim for retaliation, you will be able to recover several damages, including:

  • Back pay, such as wages and benefits for the period you were fired

  • Out of pocket losses, such as the cost of searching for work

  • Court costs and attorney’s fees

  • Reinstatement or front pay

  • Compensation for pain and suffering

It is essential for every employee to know about their rights and how they can protect themselves from adverse and unfair actions of employers. If you have faced retaliation, you should file a case against your employer and get back what’s rightfully yours. Talk to an experienced Roselle retaliatory discharge attorney to discuss your case and evaluate your legal options. Contact the Law Office of Michael T. Smith today for a consultation.