If you are an employee who has been wrongfully terminated, or an employer who is fighting an unsubstantiated claim of wrongful termination in Chicago or one of the neighboring counties, the well-respected attorneys of Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC are here to help. We have comprehensive legal knowledge and the powerful skill set to bring your case to a successful conclusion.
Only a century ago, there were no laws restricting child labor in the United States, let alone laws against wrongful termination. Although federal and state laws have come a long way in the past hundred years, there are a great many wrongful termination claims and disputes still being litigated right here in the Chicago area.
When is being fired considered wrongful termination?
Illinois, like most states, is an “at-will” employment state, meaning that an employer can discharge a worker for any reason or for no reason at all, and need not show cause for termination. While the employee also has the right to terminate employment, he/she likely needs the income, so the cards are usually stacked in the employer’s favor.
Nonetheless, there are limits to the employer’s power. Certain reasons for termination are illegal throughout the country, including:
- Discrimination against an individual for protected characteristics
- Violation of an employment contract
- Retaliation for certain protected actions, such as whistleblowing
- Termination for protected time off (e.g. for military service)
This means that if you are an employee who can prove that your firing was based on one of the unacceptable categories listed above, you may be able to sue your employer for wrongful termination.
What constitutes discrimination in Illinois?
Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from terminating an employee based on a legally protected characteristic. As a matter of fact, these laws also prohibit the employer from taking any adverse employment action (e.g. demoting, providing unfavorable working conditions) for discriminatory reasons. Legally protected characteristics generally include:
- Gender identity
- Military/veteran status
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
Our wrongful termination attorneys are well aware of the tactics our opponents may use. You can depend on us to come to your case armed with proven negotiation and litigation strategies.
How Employment Contracts or Implied Promises Affect Wrongful Termination
As stated earlier, in addition to being forbidden to fire an employee for a discriminatory reason, employees also cannot be easily terminated while working under a written employment contract that defines the period of employment and grounds for dismissal.
Even if you are working under an implied promise of continued employment, our savvy wrongful termination lawyers will likely be able to handle your case as a breach of contract claim.
How Violations of Legally Protected Rights Can Become Wrongful Termination
While an employer may well fire an employee for an unexplained absence, that employer does not have the right to terminate an employee for military service, jury duty or voting, nor for exercising his civil rights by reporting misconduct.
Employees are also entitled to report discrimination, harassment, safety violations,
and other illegal conduct without fear of retaliation. Therefore, if your employer fires you
for whistleblowing, our wrongful termination attorneys will protect you and fight to obtain appropriate compensation.
Why You Need Strong Legal Representation in Cases of Wrongful Termination
Whichever side of the table you’re on, it takes an experienced wrongful termination attorney to win your case. While the broad scope of the “at-will” principle can make wrongful termination hard to prove since an employer will likely disguise illegal motives as performance-related, it is also possible for an inept employee to claim she is being fired because of her ethnicity or gender rather than because of her lack of productivity.
The wrongful termination attorneys at Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil have strong capabilities when it comes to fighting for your rights: We will:
- Investigate your case thoroughly, gathering written, posted or photographic evidence
- Interview reliable witnesses who will corroborate your version of events
- Skillfully handle all communications with opposing counsel
- Negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement or take your case to court
The fact that our lawyers are not only committed to your cause, but equally comfortable in and out of the courtroom makes us formidable opponents.
Damages We Will Fight to Win If You Have Been Wrongfully Terminated
We are always available to help an employer who has lawfully fired an employee for cause, such as unreliable attendance, poor performance, or misconduct, or has laid off a worker justifiably because the company is being restructured.
On the other hand, if you are an employee who has been fired for your race, religion, age, disability, or another protected characteristic, we will fight aggressively to win you the damages you deserve for:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits (e.g. bonuses, health insurance)
- Emotional distress
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs
When practical, we may persuade the court to reinstate you at your place of employment. In cases in which the employer’s conduct has been especially egregious, we may also be able to obtain punitive damages.
Contact Our Experienced Wrongful Termination Attorneys Today
If you have been wrongfully terminated, you may feel that your life has been destabilized, but our experienced law team will put you back on a solid footing. Contact us now so we can begin taking the necessary steps to bring you justice.