Unlawful Retaliation

Illinois employees who believe they have suffered retaliation in the workplace will generally not have a legally actionable claim unless the adverse action was 1) actionable retaliation under the Illinois Whistleblower Act or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or 2) in violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of other laws, including the FLSA, FMLA, Title VII, Section 1981, the ADA, and the ADEA.

Many of the laws and regulations protecting an employee’s right to work in an environment free from discrimination or disparate treatment also provide for protection against retaliatory behavior on the part of the employer. The following statutes, among others, contain provisions protecting an employee’s right to work free of retaliatory conduct:

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (which protects an employees right to minimum wage and overtime pay);
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (which generally preserves the right of qualifying employees to take an unpaid leave to attend to serious medical conditions or care for a newly born or adopted child);
  • Title VII (which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color, and religion);
  • Section 1981 (which protects employees from racially-motivated interference with the right to make and enforce contracts);
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities); and
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (which protects individuals aged forty and older from discrimination on the basis of age).

These statutes contain provisions that make it unlawful for an employer to take an adverse employment action against an employee who 1) opposes behavior made unlawful under the statute, or 2) participates in any type of proceeding relating to a claim under the statute. Adverse employment actions include, but are not limited to: disciplinary action, demotion, pay cuts, increased scrutiny, write-ups, and termination.

If an employer has violated the anti-retaliation provisions of the statutes named above, the employer may be liable for damages including injunctive relief, back pay, front pay, liquidated damages, punitive damages, and/or attorneys’ fees and costs.

Our Employment Law Services

Sometimes, an employee may have a strong retaliation claim, even if the underlying claim for discrimination or some other kind of violation is not viable. Our attorneys have litigated and prevailed on numerous retaliation claims, and have won jury trials on retaliation cases. If you have questions about unlawful retaliation, or believe that your employer may have violated your rights under the law, contact Siegel & Dolan to speak to a Chicago employment lawyer.

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