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


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