Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses At-Will Employment Laws

As a business law attorney, I am well aware that Illinois is an “at-will employment” state. This means that an employer-employee relationship can be terminated by either the employer or the employee at any time and for any reason—including no reason at all. However, there are some important limitations and exclusions that employers should know about before they terminate an employee. In recent posts on this blog, we looked at practical issues associated with firing an employee, but we did not talk much about how at-will employment could affect your decision to part ways with a worker. If you are considering letting an employee go, there are some laws and provisions you need to consider.

Discrimination and Termination

Employers cannot terminate an employee for reasons related to race, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, gender, religion, ancestry citizenship status, national origin, age, or military status. So, although they do not need an official reason to terminate an employee, it is usually preferred that employers do have documentation to back up their reason. This can provide protection in the event of a discrimination lawsuit.

Work Injuries and Termination

Due to workers’ compensation protections, employers cannot terminate an employee because they have experienced a work injury. That does not mean you cannot discipline an employee for violating health or safety rules. Unfortunately, there are some serious risks involved with doing so. It could be considered retaliation against the employee for filing claim. It could also be interpreted as a method of deterring them or other employees from filing claims. Before disciplining an employee after a work injury, contact an experienced attorney for advice.

Whistleblower Protections and Termination

The law also protects whistleblowers who contact health agencies, safety agencies, or government agencies about violations within the workplace. This law is in place to try and improve safety within the workplace. Unfortunately, that is not always the way things work. Sometimes employees attempt to make frivolous or erroneous claims that cost your business time and money. For assistance on dealing with such situations, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

Employment Contracts and Termination

While most employers are not required to negotiate a contract with their employees, some choose to so they can prevent the sharing of trade secrets or sensitive company information. If the contract between the employer and the employee covers a duration of employment, the employer is bound by that contract. However, the contract will also generally include provisions for severing the employee-employer relationship in the event of a problem. Before drafting your employment contracts, contact a business law attorney for guidance and assistance.

Contact a DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

At The Gierach Law Firm, we understand the confusion and complexities that small businesses can face when terminating an employee. Dedicated to protecting your company, we can guide you through the termination process, ensure you are compliant with state and federal laws, and reduce your risk of a lawsuit or wrongful termination claim. Schedule your consultation with our Naperville business lawyers to learn more. Call 630-756-1160 today.

 

Sources:

Illinois Department of Labor

Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions