The Illinois Whistleblower Protection Act

The Illinois Whistleblower Act, 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. §175 et seq., applies to employers of one or more employees, but does not include protection for governmental entities. Under the Act, employees in Illinois are afforded protection for engaging in activity as described below. The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity, and covers actions such as termination, demotion, wage reduction, failure to promote, and write-ups, to name a few.

The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who 

discloses information to a government or law enforcement agency, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal laws, rules, or regulations.

In addition, under the Act employers cannot retaliate against an employee who participates in an investigation of unlawful activity or refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal laws, rules, or regulations.

An employee is only protected under the Whistleblower Act if he or she had reasonable cause to believe that the information disclosed was, in fact, a violation of state or federal laws, rules, or regulations. Prior to reporting activity to law enforcement or the governments, employees should evaluate whether the reported conduct could be reasonably interpreted as a violation.

If an employer violates any portion of the Act as described above, the employer may be liable to the employee in a civil suit. Under the Act, a guilty employer may be liable to the employee for injunctive relief, twice the amount owed in back pay (in the case of a termination), actual damages, and special damages including mandatory attorneys’ fees and costs. Punitive damages are not provided under the Act.

Our Employment Law Services

Our attorneys have negotiated and litigated whistleblower claims for all levels of employees in Illinois. 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 Siegel & Dolan to speak to a Chicago employment lawyer.

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