The state of Illinois is an at-will employment state. Essentially, this means that under state law, an employer is not required to have a good reason for firing an employee. Thankfully, state and federal laws protect workers from being fired for bad reasons, such as in the case of a discriminatory termination
Protected Rights under State or Federal Law
Under state and federal law, an employer may not fire you based upon your race, color, religious preferences, pregnancy status, gender, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, order of protection status, or genetic information. Moreover, there are certain protections for individuals with disabilities, an unfavorable military discharge, or an arrest record. Those who believe they may have been fired under such pretenses may be able to file a wrongful termination claim.
Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim
Depending upon which law was violated, you will most likely need to file your wrongful termination claim with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). In most cases, charges of wrongful discriminatory termination will need to be filed in person, at the IDHR or EEOC location nearest you. Alternatively, you may be able to file by mail or telephone. Be aware, however, that both state and federal regulations impose strict statutes of limitations that determine how long you have to file after the discriminatory incident takes place. If you wait too long you may end up being barred from pursuing your claim.
To file a claim, an employee must provide certain basic information about him or herself, as well as basic information about the employer, and then pertinent information regarding the incident and how it was discriminatory in nature. Mailed submissions must also be signed; they will not be investigated otherwise.
Difficulty Proving Discrimination in an At-Will Employment State
Even in states where an employer must provide a justification for firing an employee, proving discrimination can be difficult. This challenge is only further increased in an at-will employment state because there is often little evidence regarding the reason behind your job loss. Rather than attempt to file the claim on your own, it is advised that you contact a skilled and experienced attorney to assist you in the process.
At Law Office of James F. White, P.C., we understand just how stressful a wrongful termination can be. To help ease the burden and give you time to manage life, our skilled Illinois employment law attorneys
can work with the state or federal agencies on your behalf to ensure your side of the story is heard and understood. Learn more about how we may be able to help with your wrongful termination claim by scheduling a free initial consultation. Call 630-466-1600 today.