Retaliatory Discharge in Illinois: The Basics

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Under the “at will” employment doctrine, employers are typically able to fire an employee for virtually any reason. There are some exceptions, however, including statutory rules which prevent employment discrimination against certain protected classes. Another exception is known as a “retaliatory discharge.”

What It Is

Essentially, the law, as outlined by the Illinois Supreme Court, allows an employee to recover damages if they show that they were fired from a job for engaging in legally protected conduct and that their termination violated public policy interests. A 1978 Supreme Court case, Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc. was the first in the state to define this tort.

Historically, there are two general types of situations where employees have won retaliatory discharge cases. The first is where an employee was fired for making a worker’s compensation claim.  To prevail in these situations, the burden is on the employee to affirmatively show that the termination was spurred by their seeking worker’s compensation.

In addition, employers can be liable for a retaliatory discharge when they fire an employee for reporting on improper conduct or refusing to participate in that conduct. For example, in one Illinois case, Palmateer v. International Harvester, an employee was fired after going to the police to share information about a fellow employee’s illegal actions. In another case decided by an Illinois appellate court, an employee won a claim after being fired for refusing to falsify pension plans--which itself violated federal law.

Retaliatory Discharge Damages

To pursue one of these cases, an employee must file a civil lawsuit specifically alleging that they were terminated in violation of these rules. But what sort of damages can the employee recover if they win?

Under Illinois case law, employees who win a retaliatory discharge case are generally able to recover lost wages from the date that the termination occurred until they find a new job. However, that does not mean that the employee can simply do nothing and collect a paycheck. Instead, courts have ruled that the employee has a duty to mitigate their damages by taking reasonable steps to find permanent work.

In addition, depending on the specifics of the case, a plaintiff may also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the conduct of the employer (instead of merely compensating the harmed party). These damages are only a possibility when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious. 

Legal Help

If you have questions about a potential retaliatory discharge case, contact a Palatine employment lawyer today. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team. We serve many Northwest Suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and other nearby communities.

Recent Posts


elder law elder abuse cell phone accidents Palatine real estate lawyer Des Plaines injury law firm blood alcohol content Barrington injury attorney Chicago attorney dog bites consent to a search IRS uninsured motorist residential real estate Crystal Lake medical malpractice attorneys distracted driving accidents Schaumburg estate attorney Deer Park motorcycle accident lawyer natural gas Colin H. Gilbert Chicago corporate attorney condo association BAC changes to mortgage law homestead rights Barrington estate planning lawyer PTSD defective products lawyer unpaid overtime Policy Cancellation Crystal Lake car accident attorney traffic violations Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyer civil rights violation fatal car accidents Long Grove real estate attorney Illinois home inspection capital gains tax Arlington Heights car accident lawyer Illinois lawyer denied insurance claim Crystal Lake car accident lawyer Illinois driving without license Palatine criminal defense lawyer first degree murder minimum wage job lawyers Barrington litigation attorney car crash Palatine punch death Arlington Heights pedestrian accidents Mount Prospect wills and trusts lawyers Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act Whistleblower Claims rollover car crashes Schaumburg corporate attorney Palatine life insurance lawyer texting and driving probate lawyer Long Grove estate planning disability benefits Des Plaines real estate lawyer income distribution deducation murder Chicago will attorney Crystal Lake personal injury attorney Inverness real estate attorney Attorney Ken Apicella DMV Chicago employment attorney Illinois Trust Code estate tax Chicago employment lawyer Rolling Meadows insurance attorney Liquor Control Act Crystal Lake injury attorney Schaumburg personal injury lawyers Illinois insurance lawyer real estate closing Detainer Actions Rolling Meadows drug defense attorney Barrington attorney Des Plaines personal injury lawyer Des Plaines accident attorney Arlington Heights Attorney Illinois job attorney personal injury law firm Illinois personal injury lawyers employees Illinois small business insufficient documentation insurance claim denial Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act sexual images TBI car accidents operating agreements Arlington Heights estate planning attorney Fourth of July mortgage Illinois car accident attorney advance healthcare directive Des Plaines insurance attorney Crystal Lake personal injury lawyer Illinois speeding lawyer special needs trust drug crimes Barrington life insurance lawyer Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyers Palatine construction attorney Mount Prospect real estate lawyer Illinois medical malpractice attorney whistleblower protections Illinois traffic accident lawyer Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act Des Plaines tax law firm Illinois traffic laws employment lawyer Illinois employment law attorneys Deer Park accident attorney Des Plaines Traffic Lawyer insurance dispute employee rights marijuana Class A misdemeanor Inverness accident lawyer workers comp DGAA Illinois employment laws ACA Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer Rolling Meadows criminal attorney traffic deaths how to avoid common denials of life insurance claims insurance negligence traffic tickets small business Arlington Heights employment attorney bicycle accidents Buffalo Grove criminal defense lawyer Chicago insurance claim attorneys Deer Park workers compensation lawyer hiring employees bike accident ken apicella medical research trauma after an accident Arlington Heights TBI attorney living trust vs will Schaumburg personal injury lawyer holiday statistics trucking accidents Schaumburg injury lawyer Rolling Meadows personal injury lawyer Schaumburg personal injury attorney top life insurance claim denials motorcycle accident investment property fault based insurance head on collisions coronavirus Barrington criminal defense lawyer pet bites insurance claim dispute criminal defense home inspection lawyer Palatine law firm Illinois DUI attorney Illinois Sales Representative Act Illinois registered agent Barrington employment law firm medical malpractice claims Palatine corporate law attorneys ObamaCare trench injuries Buffalo Grove employment lawyer Barrington workers compensation attorney traumatic brain injury Rolling Meadows insurance lawyer Arlington Heights car crash attorneys Barrington criminal lawyer Landlord Tenant Ordinance vacation home drug crime anesthesia errors Joliet general practice lawyers Des Plaines civil attorney dram shop law hit and run accident Barrington employment law attorney child safety Illinois injury lawyer Schaumburg car accident attorney rumble strips Rolling Meadows traffic attorney tax attorney Inverness civil lawyer Rolling Meadows accident lawyer Crystal Lake insurance lawyer Illinois traffic attorney employment contract, employment law, employment at-will, Deer Park employment law attorneys, contract, estate planning, digital assets, Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Illinois digital assets, Illinois estate planning, breathalyzer test slip and fall accidents Schaumburg construction accident lawyer Buffalo Grove real estate attorney Schaumburg civil litigation attorney Rolling Meadows car accident lawyers traffic accidents Illinois living will startup company Palatine insurance lawyer jet ski Long Grove real estate lawyer Arlington Heights insurance attorney digital media accounts, estate planning, Arlington Heights estate planning attorney, personal injury POA Deer Park traffic accident attorney Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorney Super Mario Palatine civil attorney Do Not Resuscitate DUI penalities Illinois construction accident attorney Schaumburg insurance lawyers Crystal Lake will lawyer digital assets Illinois Probate Act of 1975 expungement privacy Barrington civil litigation attorney Palatine employment lawyer Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyer Illinois wrongful termination lawyer Crystal Lake employment attorney life insurance Inverness traffic law firm Palatine elder law attorney Schaumburg life insurance attorney Home Remodeling Repair Act owner responsibility bicycle dooring accidents Des Plaines personal injury lawyers Palatine estate planning lawyer Rolling Meadows employment law attorney problem employees comparative negligence college kids creditors reckless homicide real estate zoning Inverness DUI lawyer controlled substance Rolling Meadows marijuana attorney Illinois employment lawyer Illinois business law atorneys dealing with problem employees agent Rolling Meadows employment attorney BAIID Illinois corporate lawyer Buffalo Grove law firm rest breaks social media after death Inverness insurance attorney involuntary manslaughter Chicago car accident lawyer Crystal Lake medical malpractice law firm Illinois medical malpractice claim Des Plaines criminal attorney DUI defense Buffalo Grove traffic lawyers Rolling Meadows criminal lawyer filing a medical malpractice claim independent contractor LLCs liability claims healthcare claims drug possession Illinois employee rights attorney. Illinois insurance disputes criminal record insurance claims personal injury claim Crystal Lake pet attorney texting while driving Rolling Meadows personal injury attorney Chicago estate planning lawyer CAM Illinois law swimming pools premises liability overtime pay accidental death benefits Crystal Lake criminal defense attorney Employment Discrimination Law back injuries Inverness corporate attorney DNR FSLA civil litigation comp time distracted driving accident victims Palatine personal injury lawyer brain injury construction contracts Illinois mortgages privacy laws gift taxes probate Des Plaines collections attorney contracts Rolling Meadows employment law attorneys Des Plaines real estate attorney clemency South Barrington real estate lawyer probate fees installment contracts criminal law Des Plaines motorcycle accident attorney Schaumburg criminal law attorney blended families employment attorney forming a corporation in Illinois Family Medical Leave Act Illinois probate lawyer medication errors workers compensation eluding a police officer financial advisors Rolling Meadows traffic law firm food poisoning Illinois traffic attorneys cell phone tower data low-ball insurance settlement medical malpractice compensation real estate Illinois attorney Rolling Meadows life insurance claim denial attorney Illinois defective products attorney Buffalo Grove insurance claim dispute lawyers Schaumburg Illinois pedestrian accident attorney employee discrimination car accident commercial leasing loopholes pizza emoji pedestrian accident insurance adjusters Chicago trucking accident attorney drugs Deer Park criminal attorney Arlington Heights employment law attorneys wrongful termination, employment law, whistleblower protections, Illinois employment laws, discrimination in the workplace traffic laws Buffalo Grove probate lawyer Chicago lawyer Inverness real estate lawyer life insurance claims Des Plaines speeding caregiver sexual harassment Transfer on Death Instrument unfunded trust Crystal Lake business law attorneys Barrington business law firm Buffalo Grove personal injury attorney landlord tenant law estate planning lawyer Crystal Lake pedestrian accident lawyer underinsured motorist Palatine employment attorney severance agreements Inverness elder law lawyer irrevocable trust life insurance policy commercial real estate Crystal Lake medical malpractice lawyer Palatine employment law lawyer BUI Crystal Lake estate planning lawyer sole proprietorship Illinois boating accident lawyer workers compensation benefits GM ignition switches real estate attorneys pain and suffering Schaumburg estate planning lawyer Illinois estate planning probate claims process modern family estate planning insurance agents Deer Park real estate law firm denied insurance claims Jay Andrew Rolling Meadows business lawyer estate planning for college students insurance claim denials drunk driving statistics Legal Info Barrington boating accident attorney spinal cord injuries digital assets, digital fiduciary, estate planning, digital content, Long Grove estate planning lawyers estate planning, death tax, succession plans, business estate plans, Barrington estate planning lawyers unauthorized overtime Illinois insurance claim attorney living wills estate planning Barrington employment attorney liens underfunded trust business litigation construction accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys, workers' compensation federal crimes Schaumburg real estate lawyer nursing home negligence subcontractor Palatine workers compensation lawyer Illinois estate planning law firm right to work murder defense boating accidents South Barrington real estate attorney Rolling Meadows litigation lawyer Illinois trusts attorney Palatine corporate attorney license insurance disputes, Illinois insurance disputes, Illinois insurance dispute attorneys, denied insurance claims, Arlington Heights insurance dispute attorneys breach of contract insurance dispute, insurance dispute lawyers, insurance claim denial, insurance claim delays, Rolling Meadows insurance dispute attorneys new real estate form Illinois workplace lawyer Chicago life insurance attorney Illinois employment law attorney estate planning trusts Schaumburg probate attorney beneficiary complications insurance claim delay drug crimes lawyer Rolling Meadows work unions loss of consortium Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers, insurance dispute Rolling Meadows probate lawyer Crystal Lake civil litigation lawyer real estate leasing denial of insurance claim Inverness probate lawyer Schaumburg estate planning attorney Barrington Illinois estate planning lawyer Illinois bicycle safety license suspension Schaumburg traffic lawyer IRA trust transfer Buffalo Grove personal injury lawyer bad faith insurance claims insurance attorney Exclusions Crystal lake insurance dispute attorney Illinois employment law firm Arlington Heights personal injury lawyer criminal Chicago traffic lawyer estate plan Crystal Lake accident attorney Schaumburg drug defense lawyer surgical mistakes truck collisions power of attorney Arlington Heights tax lawyer Palatine drug lawyer spinal cord injury pedestrian-automobile accident mass shooting Crystal Lake tax lawyer Rolling Meadows boating crash lawyer cause-of-death exclusions motorcycle accident lawyer Palatine traffic accidents Buffalo Grove medical malpractice lawyers product liability field sobriety test Rolling Meadows Traffic Lawyer employment law, meal breaks, rest breaks, hotel employees, Des Plaines employment law attorneys deed transfer Barrington personal injury attorney liability power of attorney for healthcare crossover accidents natural gas explosion dynasty trusts Arlington Heights lawyer Barrington drug crime attorney wills and trusts Des Plaines claims law firm pedestrian injuries, pedestrian fatality insurance dispute attorney Deer Park employment law attorney taxes Rolling Meadows insurance dispute lawyers cell phone Chicago estate planning Kenilworth estate planning attorney traffic offenses Arlington Heights personal injury attorney employment law federal regulations for LLCs Riverwoods estate planning lawyer condo Rolling Meadows estate planning attorney Rolling Meadows Attorney Inverness injury lawyer Schaumburg employment attorney icy parking lots Fair Labor Standards Act Arlington Heights injury attorney Des Plaines DUI attorney Illinois employment law Illinois trucking safety Palatine injury attorney fiduciary rule material misrepresentation deadly crashes Arlington Heights wills and trusts lawyers personal injury claims traffic violations defense Rolling Meadows tax attorney Illinois collections attorney Schaumburg elder law lawyer Illinois personal injury lawyer employment law, Illinois employment laws guardianship attorney Illinois criminal defense attorney marijuana crimes attorney Illinois insurance claim dispute lawyers Arlington Heights medical malpractice lawyer Illinois real estate Illinois personal injury attorney Illinois medical malpractice case insurance claim real estate contract trustee estate attorney boating DUI Kenilworth estate planning lawyer Mount Prospect elder law attorney construction accidents IRELA internet pay when paid contract healthcare revenge porn Long Grove estate planning attorney Crystal Lake employment lawyer slip and fall DUI attorney Crystal Lake traffic lawyer digital information wrongful death Arlington Heights real estate lawyer Palatine probate lawyer Illinois business lawyer Illinois civil litigation lawyer Des Plaines pet law attorney lapse in policy unpaid assessment gift tax exemption, estate planning, estate planning strategies, Illinois estate planning, South Barrington estate planning attorneys fiduciary rule delay Barrington real estate lawyer medical malpractice, missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medical mistake, Deer Creek medical malpractice lawyers Illinois Schaumburg employment law attorneys Schaumburg Attorney Crystal Lake employment law attorney driving traffic crimes insurance disputes insurance claim dispute attorney most common reasons for life insurance claim denials institutional trustee Buffalo Grove life insurance attorney School Visitation Rights Act Rolling Meadows real estate attorney Schaumburg wrongful death attorney Des Plaines personal injury attorney llinois Real Estate Lawyers Association commercial leases caretaker rights Affordable Care Act Crystal Lake bike accident lawyer Chicago biking tips murder charges automated cars probate claims Arlington Heights wills and trusts attorneys Illinois personal injury personal injury, auto accident injuries, delayed injuries, serious injuries, Des Plaines personal injury attorneys car collision Illinois rollover accident lawyers Barrington medical malpractice lawyers wage theft Crystal Lake law firm DUI workplace sexual harassment Illinois tax attorney Thanksgiving traumatic brain injuries employee misclassification Schaumburg medical malpractice lawyer pregnant women life insurance claim denial, denial of life insurance claim Chicago will attorney, social media platforms, Illinois estate planning lawyer, Illinois real estate lawyer defective products insurance denials Forcible Entry Self-Directed IRA Accounts corporate law senior citizens Palatine civil litigation lawyer manufacturing IRA benefits in terrorem provision preventable medical errors Illinois insurance attorney Illinois workplace discrimination attorney meal breaks personal injury accidents living trust medical malpractice appealing an insurance claim Arlington Heights traffic attorney Inverness estate planning lawyer license reinstatement car crashes Illinois employment attorneys Des Plaines drug lawyer Illinois red light cameras overtime violations personal injury lawyer golf accidents preventing accidents rent to own real estate contracts denial of life insurance digital evidence Illinois workers compensation attorney Deer Park personal injury lawyer Illinois estate planning attorney Illinois LLC creation medical marijuana Arlington Heights Traffic Lawyer Retaliatory Discharge Illinois Transfer on Death Instrument Illinois will lawyer wrongful termination Illinois insurance dispute lawyers car accident lawyers Deer Park traffic lawyer health insurance dispute boating under the influence car crash injuries Rolling Meadows medical malpractice lawyers license revocation Illinois jet ski accident lawyer real estate lawyer attorney fees living trust benefits pet law Barrington Traffic Lawyer civil litigation attorney life insurance lawyer Chicago insurance law firm foreclosure Illinois Human Rights Act Buffalo Grove car accident lawyer Barrington personal injury lawyer real estate attorney trusts Deer Park DUI lawyer employment contract personal injury attorney Rolling Meadows corporate lawyer Kenilworth estate planning attorneys Schaumburg criminal attorney underage DUI Buffalo Grove corporate attorney Long Grove wills and trusts attorneys Illinois workers compensation lawyer trucking accident lawyers Colin Gilbert jet ski accidents products liability landlord vacation home fines car accident lawyer suspended license auto accidents Des Plaines drug crimes lawyer Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer probate process Illinois Smoke Detector Act Illinois elder law attorney trust payments drunk driving Illinois wills and trusts attorneys insurance denial appeals Deer Park medical malpractice attorney FMLA Arlington Heights accident attorney pedestrian accidents paid sick leave estate planning attorney Palatine business attorney insurance agent negligence no contest clauses Mt Prospect Attorney Palatine trusts lawyer Arlington Heights criminal lawyer compensatory time wills Illinois pet lawyer Buffalo Grove injury lawyer Crystal Lake traffic attorney Buffalo Grove traffic attorney foreclosed rental property Des Plaines medical malpractice attorney Arlington Heights trucking lawyer rollover accidents Long Grove estate planning attorneys Palatine traffic lawyer Palatine Attorney Barrington estate planning attorney Illinois medical malpractice lawyers Illinois insurance claims lawyers Home Sale Contingencies Inverness personal injury attorney Illinois wills and trusts hands free device Illinois traffic ticket lawyer