Retaliation & Whistleblower
Many federal, state, and local laws contain provisions prohibiting employers from retaliating against existing employees for their having complained of, filed claims (whether formally or informally), or participating in an investigation or proceeding involving, alleged violations under:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA)
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
- Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
- Illinois Wage Payment & Collection Act (IWPCA)
- Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA)
- Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 (EPA)
Illinois courts have also recognized the right of former employees to bring claims against their former employer for terminating them for having filed a worker's compensation claim.
If you believe you have been the victim of retaliation after exercising your rights under any of the above Acts, contact us to discuss your rights.
The Illinois Whistleblower Act
Under the Illinois Whistleblower Act, it is illegal for employers (defined as any entity, other than a governmental one, with one or more Illinois employees) to take adverse action against an employee (i.e. terminate, demote, deny promotions, or issue discipline) who discloses information to a government agency, if the employee reasonably believes the information discloses a violation of state or federal laws. Employers also cannot retaliate against an employee who participates in an investigation or refuses to engage in acts that would violate state or federal laws.
A typical work-related whistleblower scenario results when an employee discovers an issue regarding how their employer is doing business, and raises the "mistake" with a manager or outside reporting agency hoping the problem can be corrected. They soon find themselves disciplined or fired. Only then does the employee realize that they have been retaliated against for being a whistleblower.
Under the Act, such an employee can bring a civil action against the employer for all "make whole" relief including:
- reinstatement with the same seniority status
- back pay, with interest
- litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorney's fees
If you have questions about your rights under the Illinois Whistleblower Act, or believe that your employer may have violated your rights under the Act, contact us.