Employment Law Overview

Employment Laws - At-Will, Employment Contracts, Discrimination and Harassment

In general, the state of Illinois is an "at-will" employment state which means that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, in much the same way that an employee may resign at-will. Under this doctrine, an employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time with no legal recourse.

The "at-will" employment doctrine does not apply where the employer and employee have an employment contract or otherwise reached an agreement that reflects an employment relationship other than "at-will". In such cases, the contract or agreement will determine how the relationship is terminated and damages for premature termination of employment. Where an employment relationship is terminated prematurely or not in accordance with the contract or agreement, the injured person may sue for breach of contract. Damages for breach of contract include lost wages and the value of lost employment benefits.

Another exception to the "at-will" employment doctrine exists with respect to discrimination and harassment. The law prevents an employer from engaging in or condoning conduct that amounts to discrmination or harassment in the workplace. Employers may not make workplace decisions on an illegal discriminatory basis. Also, employers and their supervisors may not subject employees to a hostile work environment based on prohibited factors such as race, sex, national origin, age, disability or other protected class. Employees have the right to complain about discrimination and/or harassment and are protected from retaliation as a result of their complaints. Read more about Employment Discrimination and Harassment

The Family Leave and Medical Act allows qualifying employees unpaid leave for family and medical situations. Employers are required to hold an employee's position open while he/she is on FMLA leave. Read more about FMLA

Fair Wage laws require that an employer pay its employees for time worked. Certain employees are entitled to overtime pay for time worked over the normal 40 hour work-week. The Department of Labor is responsible for administering the laws regarding employee pay and overtime compensation. Read more

Workers Compensation law in Illinois also prohibits employers from terminating an employee because the employee filed for workers compensation on the bases on a work-related injury applies to workers who have suffered injuries in the workplace. Read more

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