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Is Illinois an “At-Will” Employment State?

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While most employees may enjoy long careers with an employer, it is important to recognize that this is not always the case for those working in an “at-will” employment state. This is because in an “at-will” state the employer may terminate an employee at any time and for (almost) any reason. This holds true for employees as well: employees in an “at-will” state may terminate their employment at any time and for any reason. Moreover, in an “at-will” employment state there is no requirement that either the employer or the employee provide any advance warning or notification to the other before the employment relationship is terminated. Finally, in an “at-will” state neither the employer nor the employee need to give a reason for terminating the employment relationship.

Illinois is At-Will, But That Doesn’t Mean You Can Be Fired for Any Reason

Illinois (like the vast majority of other states) is considered to be an “at-will” employment state. However, just because employment in Chicago and throughout Illinois is “at-will” does not mean that employers can terminate employees for reasons which may be illegal or in violation of a contract. For example, “at-will” employment may not apply in situations in which the employee has a signed employment contract that specifies the employee can only be terminated for “cause” or for specific disciplinary violations, or states that the employee will work for a specified term of employment. In addition, the employer may not use the principle of “at-will” employment to terminate an employee based upon that employee’s sex, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected classifications.

How Do I Know if I Have Been Wrongfully Terminated?

It may be difficult for you to know if you have a claim for wrongful termination and you may not know what evidence you will need to prove that you were terminated in violation of your contract or in violation of the law. Moreover, the employer might have evidence suggesting that you were not discharged in violation of your contract or for an unlawful and discriminatory reason, such as evidence of poor performance.

In meeting with your Chicago wrongful termination attorney, it will be helpful for your potential case if you can document and recall incidents and circumstances occurring immediately prior to and what lead up to your termination. Did your employer:

  • Engage in other discriminatory or harassing acts?
  • Make any comments to you about your job performance (positive or negative)?
  • Attempt to isolate you from the rest of your team?
  • Appear to discuss your work performance or presence at the work site with others who would not usually be privy to such information?
  • Treat those outside your protected classification more favorably in a similar situation?
  • Mistreat other employees from your same protected classification?

The presence of these and other factors may suggest that your employer wrongfully terminated you and can provide your attorney with a starting point for evaluating your case and investigating the alleged reasons for your termination.

Contact an Illinois Wrongful Termination Lawyer Right Away

If you believe you have been unlawfully and wrongfully terminated from your employment in Illinois or Southwestern Michigan, call Goldman & Ehrlich today at 312-332-6733 to schedule your confidential initial consultation. You can also contact us through our website.