Managers, executives, and other higher-ups have a responsibility to keep their companies profitable, while maintaining a good reputation in the community. When an employee is failing to meet company standards or negatively impacting the success of a company, employers have a right to terminate that employee.
Illinois is an at-will employment state, meaning that an employer can terminate an employee for any lawful reason. Generally, some of these reasons may include:
- Poor work performance or lack of productivity
- Failure to abide by company rules or insubordination
- Chronic absenteeism or tardiness
- Unethical conduct or criminal behavior
While there are many valid reasons for terminating an employee, there are also illegal or invalid reasons for doing so. Terminating an employee for unlawful or illegitimate reasons can lead to a claim of wrongful termination.
What constitutes wrongful termination?
When an employer terminates an employee, or takes any adverse action against them (e.g. demoting them), they must have a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason to do so. A wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates an employee:
- Based on a protected characteristic (race, gender, religion, national origin, pregnancy, age, disability).
- In violation of an express or implied employment contract.
- In violation of company policy.
- In retaliation for the employee’s failure or refusal to perform illegal acts or whistleblowing.
Workers can recover compensation for wrongful termination
If an employee can prove that their employer wrongfully terminated them, they may be able to recover damages including back and front pay, compensatory damages, promotion or reinstatement, and punitive damages. If you have been sued for wrongful termination, n employment litigation attorney in the Chicago area can represent you and help establish that the employee was terminated for lawful reasons.