Monday, March 5, 2018
As the owner and principal of the law firm R. Connor & Associates in Chicago, attorney Robert Heist represents clients in a variety of matters related to business. Focused particularly on employment law, Robert Heist frequently works with individuals seeking an attorney to help them with wrongful termination of employment and other employee rights issues.
Because Illinois is an employment-at-will state, an employer may terminate a worker for any lawful reason at any time. Lawful reasons typically include those that are not expressly prohibited under the law or under a contract with the employee.
An Illinois employer may not terminate an employee as an act of discrimination. Federal law prohibits organizations from ending employment relationships for reasons related to a protected characteristic, which includes disability, race, age, and country of origin. Illinois adds a number of other protected features, ranging from pregnancy to history of arrest.
Employers in Illinois are also not permitted to terminate for violations of public policy. Although the definition of this term is not explicit in the state of Illinois, there are regulations in place that protect employees who report illegal employer activity or file a claim for workers' compensation. Employees receive similar legal protection when they take time off for federally permitted reasons, such as military service or jury duty.
Relatedly, employers in Illinois may also not terminate employment if doing so would constitute a breach of contract. Certain contracts guarantee that employment will continue except under specific circumstances, and these take precedence against the overall state policy of employment at will.