What Activities Are Protected Under Retaliatory Discharge Law?

Retaliatory discharge, also known as wrongful termination, occurs when an employer fires an employee in retaliation for engaging in protected activities. These protected activities are actions that employees are legally entitled to undertake without fear of retaliation from their employer. In Illinois, the retaliatory discharge law provides important protections for employees who exercise their rights in the workplace.

Defining Protected Activities

Protected activities under retaliatory discharge law encompass a broad range of actions that are safeguarded by state and federal laws. These activities typically include:

  1. Filing a Discrimination Complaint – Employees have the right to file complaints or charges alleging discrimination or harassment based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, disability, or religion. Retaliating against an employee for filing such a complaint is illegal under both state and federal law.
  2. Participating in Investigations – Employees who participate in investigations or proceedings related to workplace discrimination or other illegal activities are protected from retaliation. This includes providing testimony, cooperating with investigators, or assisting in the investigation process.
  3. Exercising Legal Rights – Employees have the right to exercise various legal rights without fear of retaliation. This may include taking legally protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), filing workers’ compensation claims, or engaging in collective bargaining activities.
  4. Reporting Workplace Violations – Employees who report violations of workplace health and safety regulations, environmental laws, or other legal requirements are protected from retaliation. This includes reporting unsafe working conditions, environmental hazards, or unlawful business practices.

Legal Protections Under Illinois Law

In Illinois, retaliatory discharge claims are governed by both common law principles and statutory protections. The Illinois Whistleblower Act, for example, provides protections for employees who report violations of state laws or regulations. Additionally, the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose discriminatory practices or participate in investigations under the Act.

Proving Retaliatory Discharge

To succeed in a retaliatory discharge claim, an employee must demonstrate several key elements:

  1. Engagement in Protected Activity – The employee must show that they engaged in a protected activity, such as filing a discrimination complaint or reporting workplace violations.
  2. Adverse Employment Action – The employee must prove that they suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination, demotion, or suspension, as a result of their protected activity.
  3. Causal Connection – There must be a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. This requires evidence showing that the employer took action against the employee because of their engagement in the protected activity.

Potential Remedies For Retaliatory Discharge

If an employee prevails in a retaliatory discharge claim, they may be entitled to various remedies, including:

  1. Reinstatement – In some cases, the employee may be reinstated to their former position or offered a comparable position within the company.
  2. Back Pay – The employee may receive compensation for lost wages and benefits resulting from the wrongful termination.
  3. Compensatory Damages – The employee may be awarded damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other non-economic losses.
  4. Punitive Damages – In cases involving egregious misconduct by the employer, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the employer and deter similar behavior in the future.

Call Our Chicago Retaliatory Discharge Attorneys For Legal Help

If you believe you have been a victim of illegal retaliatory discharge and discrimination in the workplace, it’s crucial to take action to protect your rights. At North Suburban Legal, we are dedicated to fighting for justice and ensuring that individuals are treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace. With our experienced legal team and commitment to client advocacy, we can help you understand your rights under anti-discrimination laws and assist you in filing a complaint.

Don’t allow illegal retaliatory discharge and discrimination to go unaddressed. Reach out to our Chicago retaliatory discharge attorneys at North Suburban Legal by calling 312-909-6089 to receive your free consultation. During this confidential meeting, we will attentively listen to your concerns, assess your case, and offer personalized legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Let us stand as your advocate in the fight against illegal retaliatory discharge and discrimination.




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