The right to earn an honest wage, maintain a job, and being free from unlawful and improper workplace cannot be more important to our society. Moreover, given the immense importance earning an honest wage and having a job, it is also clearly understood that improper and unlawful employer practices and workplace environments can have life-altering consequences on an individual or a family. The Tetzlaff, Cervantez & Associates Law Firm is a law firm you can depend on to always be on your side and to aggressively advocate your workplace rights. Tetzlaff, Cervantez & Associates always does whatever is possible to fight for our clients’ rights and on our clients’ behalf in order to those who have violated or trampled on our clients’ rights accountable.
It means that you can be terminated for any reason, good or bad, except for certain specific reason that are prohibited by law such as for illegal discrimination or illegal retaliation. If you do not have an employment contract with your employer or are part of a group of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement then you are most likely an at will employee.
If you have an employment contract or subject to a collective bargaining agreement, then you are not an “at will” employee and your employment and termination are governed by the employment contract or bargaining agreement. For example, if your employment contract or collective bargaining agreement provides that you can only be terminated for “cause” or that you must be given certain warnings or progressive discipline prior to termination. then your employer must follow those provisions or your employer will be in breach of the employment contract or bargaining agreement.
In Illinois it illegal for employers to terminate or fire employees as a result of filing a worker’s compensation claim, have taken family medical leave, or exercising certain protected civil rights.
A hostile work environment exists when the workplace contains such an offensive atmosphere that it is hostile to people as a result of their age, sex, race, national origin, religious beliefs, or because of sexual harassment, or because the company then retaliates against an employee who complains of such environment.
Illegal discrimination exists when you are being treated poorly AS A RESULT OF an person’s age, sex, race, national origin, or other protected class.
Sexual harassment exists either when a hostile work environment regarding exists or your employer ties positive or negative employment action based on your willingness to consent or engage in sexual acts.
Illegal retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse employment action (demotion, pay cut, job transfer) as a response to an employee complaining about an illegal hostile work environment, such as sexual harassment or illegal discrimination in the workplace. Retaliation can also occur when an employer takes action against an employee as a result of the employee exercising the employee’s rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or other legally protected rights like under whistleblower laws.
It is when you are treated so poorly at work that you have no choice but to quit. Under the law, you have a claim for constructive discharge if the mistreatment constitutes illegal discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
Generally, you should bring the matter to the attention of management, and give management a chance to fix the problem. However, if management fails to rectify the problem or if the problem only continues to get worse, you may have a claim for constructive discharge.
If you work for a federal or state government agency then you have protection. However, if you work for a private employer or subcontractor you generally will not be protected. Illinois has a whistleblower act that provides specific protections for whistleblowers.
Successful whistleblowers need evidence. Be sure to keep records and documentation of corrupt activity. Make sure you do not break any laws yourself. Exposing government waste or corruption will not necessarily relieve you of liability for committing unlawful acts yourself. You should also read your employment contract as your union or other employment contract may contain additional whistleblower protections.
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