What is Wrongful Termination?

Web Admin - Friday, April 08, 2016

wrongful termination, Illinois Employment Law AttorneysLoosing a job can be devastating to both you and your family. However, because Illinois is an at-will employment state, employers are generally allowed to terminate employees for whatever reasons they so choose. Still, this is not to say that all bases for termination are legal. 

When you are concerned that your employment termination was a wrongful termination, or you believe that your termination was in some way illegal, then you should discuss your case with an experienced employment law attorney to learn more about your rights.

Wrongful Termination 

There are legal protections in place to protect workers from wrongful termination. “Wrongful termination” does not necessarily mean that you feel your termination is unfair or unjustified. Rather, “wrongful termination” implies that the termination violates the law in some way. An employer may not terminate an employee for the following reasons:

- If the termination would violate an employment contract;

- If the termination was made on a discriminatory basis;

- If the termination is retaliatory for the employee exercising his or her rights. For instance, the following are impermissible grounds upon which to terminate an employee: 

- Filing a worker’s compensation claim;

- Filing a workplace safety complaint; 

- Filing a sexual harassment action; and

- Reporting wrongdoing in the company, i.e., whistle-blowing. 

- For taking legally protected time off from work for things such as jury duty, military leave, or time needed to care for oneself or his or her family members under the Family Medical Leave Act. 

Each of the above identified grounds for a termination would be a “wrongful termination” since each one violates the law in some way. 

Employment Contracts

Employees who have an employment contract are not considered to be “at will” employees. Rather, employment contracts impose a legal obligation between the employer and the employee—the employee will remain employed until the termination of the contract. Early termination of the employee would be an early termination of the contract, which is a violation of the terms of the contract. 

Discriminatory Termination 

Termination of an employee on the basis of discrimination is a violation of state and federal employment discrimination laws. There are certain legally protected statuses upon which an employee cannot be discriminated. These include the employee’s age, sex, race, religion, disability, national origin, pregnancy, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, unfavorable military discharge, arrest record, and lack of a permanent mailing address.

Retaliatory Termination

Employees have certain protected rights in Illinois under the Illinois Whistleblower Act and Illinois case law. Under these laws workers are allowed to exercise their rights without having to fear being terminated from their job. Employees can report instances of illegal conduct to the appropriate government authorities, and can also refuse to participate in company activities that the worker believes to be illegal. 

Employment law issues, such as wrongful termination, can be confusing. However, a skilled attorney can help. Please contact one of our experienced Illinois employment law attorneys today. Our Illinois law firm serves the communities of Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Barrington, Palatine, Crystal Lake, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park. Please call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

    Ken Apicella

    About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.





When is Overtime Pay Required?

Web Admin - Thursday, May 28, 2015

overtime pay in Illinois, Palatine employment lawyerOvertime pay is an important, but often complicated, issue that employers and employees sometimes have to resolve. For employees, receiving overtime pay is compensation for being asked to work a significant number of hours. However, employers often attempt to find ways, either by legal or, in extreme cases, illegal means, to avoid having to pay overtime compensation.

General Overtime Information

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois law, an employee is entitled to overtime pay when he or she works more than 40 hours in a single workweek. The workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours (seven consecutive 24-hour periods) and is defined by the employer. The workweek does not need to coincide with the calendar week. Instead, the workweek can begin on any day and at any time of the day. While the employer can make the workweek whatever he or she wishes, it is not permissible to average the number of hours worked over a period of two or more weeks.

Overtime pay is paid at a minimum of 150 percent of the employee’s hourly work rate (known as “time-and-a-half”) for the number of hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA does not place a maximum number of hours that an employee over the age of 16 may work in a workweek. Further, there is no provision for overtime pay for work performed on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays, unless work performed on those days results in exceeding the 40-hour rule. Generally, overtime pay is paid on the regular payday for the period in which the wages were earned.

The FLSA provides for several exemptions from the requirement of overtime pay. Exempt from overtime pay are executives, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees who earn over $455 per week. Determining whether an employee fits under one of these categories can be complex and requires examination of the specific work the employee performs. Under Illinois law, other types of workers are also exempt, including, but not limited to:

  1. - Any salesman or mechanic primarily engaged in the selling or servicing of automobiles, trucks or farm implements;
  2. - Agricultural workers; and
  3. - A crew member of any uninspected towing vessel operating in any navigable waters in or along the boundaries of Illinois.

An employee who believes that he or she is entitled to overtime pay can file a lawsuit claiming monetary damages or that requests an injunction that orders the employer to pay the overtime wages. If the employee’s lawsuit is successful, he or she may receive back-pay, as well as liquidated damages in an amount equal to the back-pay.

Help with Employment Issues

For more information or if you believe you have been improperly denied overtime pay, you should speak with an experienced Illinois employment law attorney with experience in employment law and overtime compensation. Our firm represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including areas such as Arlington Heights, Palatine and Crystal Lake. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

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