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Illinois Employment Law

Illinois’s job market took a considerable hit with the Great Recession of 2008 and has been slow to recover since. It ranked as the state with the ninth-highest unemployment rate in November 2016 and has suffered from hindering tax hikes and a stagnating job creation rate. Even young and minority workers are suffering from significant unemployment woes.

In the wake of Illinois’s economic woes, employer and employee relations are becoming stressed. Employment law issues with discrimination, wage theft/loss and unfair business practices are real concerns in Illinois court rooms and workers’ homes. However, the Prairie State is working toward reforming its employment laws with initiatives and policies like a minimum wage increase.

Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker’s compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Illinois employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.

Common Illinois Employment Law Issues

One common employment law issue taken to Illinois courts is wage theft/loss. This happens when an employer doesn’t pay a worker their due compensation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act guarantee a worker’s right to due compensation for their time and efforts on the employer’s behalf. It is illegal for an employer to deduct or withhold wages for misconduct, retaliation, damages to work property or products and other unfair excuses.

Another common employment law issue in Illinois is workplace discrimination. This type of discrimination includes making unfair decisions about hiring, promotion, or termination based on a worker’s ethnicity, gender, sex, disability or any other protected class characteristic. For instance, it is illegal for an employer to fire a female employee who had taken maternity leave.

The Illinois Human Rights Act governs anti-discrimination practices in the workplace and defines protected classes of workers.

Illinois Minimum Wage

Illinois’s minimum wage as of January 2017 is $8.25/hour. By 2019, the Illinois minimum wage will increase to $11/hour. However, Chicago set its own increase plan that will raise its minimum wage to $13/hour by 2019. As of January 2017, Chicago’s minimum wage is $10.50/hour and will increase on July 1, 2017 to $11/hour.

Illinois Whistleblower Laws

If you catch your employer violating public policies like illegal dumping or not following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s guidelines, Illinois’s Whistleblower Act offers some protection if you report your employer. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who reports their illegal practice, including:

  • Termination
  • Suspension
  • Demotion
  • Reduction or denial of pay or benefits
  • Blacklisting
  • Any other disciplinary action

While whistle blowing on your employer may seem intimidating, especially for part-time employees or contractors, the state encourages any worker to step forward and may even reward the whistleblower. If your employer retaliates, they may be liable for serious penalties and will likely be forced to compensate you for damages.

Get Help from an Employment Attorney

If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it’s in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.

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