no need to leave your home to receive legal consultations and services - Call or click to learn more about phone and videoconferencing with our attorneys

Retaliatory Discharge in Illinois Explained

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we will explain Retaliatory Discharge law in Illinois, including answering questions such as “what is Retaliatory Discharge?” and “Can an Employee be Fired for Reporting Misconduct?” as well as explaining How To Prove Retaliatory Discharge.  

For more, see our article Wrongful Termination in Illinois Explained.

What is Retaliatory Discharge?

Retaliatory Discharge is a form of wrongful termination relating to retaliation or revenge against an employee for an act not related to their work performance.  This can include behavior such as filing a workers comp claim or requesting for legally-required reimbursement.  This behavior is the legal right of an employee, so an employer firing an employee for this behavior may be considered retaliatory.  Retaliatory Discharge can also occur in severe situations, such as an employee being fired after reporting sexual harassment in the workplace or being a “whistleblower” who exposed illicit or illegal activity in the workplace.  

An employee is also protected when refusing to carry out commands by their employer that is illegal or that they reasonably believe to be discriminatory.  This situation could arise iif an employer tells their employee to deny service to someone or remove  client based on their religion, sexual orientation or race.  For example, if an employee of a restaurant is told by their boss to kick out a family for speaking Spanish, and the employee refuses this because they reasonably believe it is discrimination, that action would be protected and, if they were terminated because of their refusal, that may be considered retaliatory discharge.  

Retaliatory Discharge

Can an Employee Be Fired for Reporting Misconduct?

Reporting misconduct in the workplace is a protected action under Illinois law.  This includes directly reporting misconduct yourself as well as being involved in the investigation as a witness or other participant.  An employee cannot be fired for participating in misconduct investigations, even if the investigation is inconclusive or not yet decided.  An employer who fires an employee for participating in an investigation could be considered interfering with justice, even if the employer does not believe the investigation is reasonable or correct.  This does not mean that an employee involved in an investigation cannot be fired for any reason whatsoever.  They can still be fired for other reasons.  However, if the termination is challenged, the employer would have to prove that the termination was not connected to the investigation.

For a related article, please read Are Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections Required in Illinois?”

How to Prove Retaliatory Discharge

An employee may maintain a retaliatory discharge claim by establishing one the following:

  • That the employee was participating in a protected activity and that the termination was directly related to the protected activity. This can include direct evidence such as in-writing declarations that the employee is being fired because of their behavior, or circumstantial evidence such as proving an employer’s past with prejudice behavior. Direct evidence is much more significant in proving the termination was wrongful.
  • That the Employee Was Fired Because He or She Refused to Take a Discriminatory Action: If an employee believes they have been fired for refusing to act with wrongful discrimination, they must prove that they believed the act to be discriminatory and refused to act because of that belief.

In many situations, an employer is not required to provide any reason for termination and can fire an employee without any declared reason whatsoever.  However, if an employer is later accused of retaliatory termination, they may have to prove that the termination was not related to any protected behavior.  They may be able to point to the employee’s poor work performance or their negative behavior in the workplace as evidence that they were terminated for reasons beyond their protected actions.

For more related reading, see out article on  Changes to Illinois Employment Law in 2019.

Additional Financial Considerations
from Financial Experts

From Financial Experts

For many years, financial institutions have been creating a disservice to clients and the industry as a whole for years.
View More Professional Considerations

Presented By O'Flaherty Law

What is Retaliatory Discharge

Need Legal Help? 

Schedule a

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.

Leave a Comment With Your Questions

Read more about

Business, Corporate & Contract Law

We offer free, paid & Online CONSULTATION in:

Business, Corporate & Contract Law

Schedule a consultation with our Illinois & Iowa Attorneys

We offer free, paid & online consultation in nearly every area of law throughout Illinois and Iowa. We have a range of options to assist you with your legal needs.

What happens at a legal consultation?
Meet with an attorney for a free consultation to discuss what type of matter you need to discuss with an attorney.
Over the Phone Legal Consultations
Similar to In-person consultations, you discuss your legal needs with our attorneys to discuss your matter.
An online consultation is like an in-person and an over the phone online Consultation. You meet face to face with our attorneys through our online portal.
Paid Legal Consultations
While a free consultation allows us to discuss what we can do in general terms for your legal matter, a paid consultation allows us to answer direct questions.

More Illinois Employment and Labor Law Episodes

contact us

Monday to Friday
9am - 5pm

Contact Us
Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation for legal advice specific to your situation.

Here are some articles that may interest you
Schedule a

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Schedule a free consultation

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in:

Who We Are
We are your community law firm. Our Illinois & Iowa Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.

Some of Our Accomplishments

Best Child Support Lawyers in Chicago
DuPage County Probate Attorney
Kevin P. O'Flaherty
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...
Naperville attorney
DuPage County Probate Attorney

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required