A whistleblower in Illinois is someone who informs the authorities about an employer’s illegal or unauthorized activity. Illinois is an “at will” employment state. This means an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all as long as the termination is not discrimination or in violation of legal protections, like filing workers compensation, or a statutory rights, like those provided by the Illinois Whistleblower Act. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers.
Under the Illinois’ Whistleblower Act, employees are protected in three ways:
- An employee may not be retaliated against for disclosing suspected violations of state or federal law to a government or law enforcement agency. The suspicion does not need to be true. The employee only needs reasonable cause to believe it to be true. Further, the employee is not required to prove that the violation happened in order to be protected by the Act.
- An employee may not be retaliated against for refusing to participate in an activity that violates state or federal law.
- Employers cannot adopt policies that prevent employees from disclosing suspected violations of state or federal law to a government or law enforcement agency.
If an employer takes any action against an employee in violation of the Act, the employee may bring a lawsuit against their employer for all relief necessary to make the employee whole, including but not limited to the following:
- Reinstatement to their position with the same seniority status that the employee had or would have had if their rights had not been violated;
- Back pay plus interest; and/or
- Payment for any monetary damages that the employee sustained due to the employer’s violation of their rights such as: litigation costs, expert witness fees, and attorney’s fees.
If you believe you have been terminated or discriminated against in violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act, contact an experienced employment attorney to review your potential case. Statutes of limitations may affect your claim.
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