Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Illinois Employment Laws
If you are having trouble with work hours, unpaid wages, unfair treatment, harassment, illegal termination, severance or any other employment issue, it can be stressful. We understand that and keep that in mind when we talk to you about your rights and finding a lawyer. We treat anyone that calls us like a friend or relative in giving them caring and honest advice. When we recommend an attorney, it's someone we would hire ourselves who has a real track record of success and experience. You have certain rights under the law and they are there to protect you, your job and your earnings.
Perhaps you have a legal issue before a job even begins. If you are asked to sign a non-compete agreement, for example, it's a good idea to have an attorney look it over. Or maybe you are just beginning to realize that you've had an issue for a long time. Maybe your employer owes you months or even years or overtime pay or commissions, or maybe you have been trying for months to get paid the vacation time that you earned before you left your old job. Other times you are discriminated against based on race and the employer hasn't done anything to correct the problem.
A consultation with an employment attorney is confidential, and in most cases, free. The attorneys we recommend have helped many people in your same situation in the past. Our goal is to recommend an attorney for you who has done just that. An attorney's experience and track record of success are two of the most important things we consider.
The law protects employees who assert their rights. You can't get fired for filing a claim for unpaid wages, for example. By working for your employer, you are providing a benefit and you deserve to be compensated. Don't sit back and let your employer take advantage of what you've given them.
We understand how important your job is to you. It pays the bills, it provides opportunities for your family and if you're lucky, it's something you truly enjoy. You need an employment lawyer with the experience and reputation to protect that. We only recommend attorneys that will look out for you.
The following links explain some specific areas of labor and employment law in Illinois. If there is something you're struggling with that is not on the list, please get in touch and we'll be happy to discuss it with you. We help people find attorneys in all areas of Illinois employment law.
- At Will Employment in Illinois
- Breaks From Work and Illinois Law
- Compensation Issues
- Do I Have an Unpaid Wage Claim?
- Employment Law 101 in Illinois
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- Frequently asked questions about Illinois employment law
- Frequently asked questions about Illinois overtime laws
- Illegal Termination
- Illinois Overtime Lawyers and Illinois Overtime Laws
- Illinois Sales Rep Act
- Non-Compete Agreements
- Severance Agreements
- Sexual harassment
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- Vacation Pay in Illinois
- Wage Payment and Collection Act
- What Makes a Great Illinois Employment Lawyer?
- Whistleblower Lawsuits in Illinois
Findgreatlawyers.com is a free service, run by Illinois lawyers, to help people with any Illinois legal matter, including employment law. From Chicago to Belleville, to Peoria to Rockford and all locations in between, we will talk to you about your situation, for free, and help you achieve your goals.
When you contact us, you will talk to one of our attorneys for free and get some insight into which laws affect you. If you want to take the next step, we can recommend an Illinois employment attorney who has significant experience in exactly what you're facing. We do not recommend attorneys who take any case that walks through the door. And we never recommend an attorney because they pay us to do so. Our goal is to make a personal recommendation as if you were a family member or friend.
Age discrimination is only illegal if you're 40 or older
A 25-year-old employee can get fired because of their age and it's not going to be considered illegal age discrimination. Until you are 40, the law allows an employer to fire you based on your age. Workers under 40 simply aren't a protected category of employees.
If you are 40 or older, you can't be fired based on your age. In addition, it's illegal to fire someone based on race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or because you took action against your employer such as filing a workers' comp claim, reporting illegal activity or complaining about unsafe work conditions.
Your employment law attorney should know their stuff
The area of employment law involves a many different laws, both state and federal. When looking for an attorney for an employment law issue, be sure they have extensive knowledge of all relevant laws and how those laws work together. If they don't fully understand your rights, they won't be able to properly help you. Attorneys may not advertise the exact extent of their experience, which is why a potential client should ask a lot of questions before agreeing to hire someone for their case. Look for an attorney who focuses on employment law rather than someone who handles the occasional case in this area.
You may be entitled to your vacation pay, even if you quit or get fired
The deciding factor is whether your employer provides paid vacation. If yes, then any amount of vacation that you have accumulated before leaving your job is considered yours. You should be compensated for all paid vacation time that you have earned. This is required by law, so don't let your employer give you a bogus reason as to why you can't get your vacation pay. Keep in mind that not all employers offer paid vacation, and that's fine. But if they offer it, and you earn it, they have to follow this rule. As for that final paycheck (which should include your vacation pay), your employer is supposed to hand it over on your last day of work, or, at the very latest, on the next regular pay day.
Salaried employees not necessarily exempt from overtime
Just because you technically earn a salary, doesn't mean you aren't entitled to earn overtime for working more than 40 hours in a week. It depends on the type of job you have. “Professionals” and “managers” and other categories are exempt, meaning they won't get overtime, but the law isn't crystal clear. The best thing to do is talk to an experienced employment attorney about whether you should be getting overtime. Employers may take advantage and try to avoid paying overtime in situations where it should be. Perhaps they honestly don't know that they should be paying you overtime. It's up to you to find out what you're entitled to.
Don't sit on a "right to sue" letter
If you have filed a complaint with the Department of Human Rights or the EEOC and you get a letter called a “right to sue” letter, you still have to do something. This does not mean that you have won. The letter is informing you that you have the green light to file a lawsuit. There is a deadline that comes with the letter – just 90 days to file a lawsuit. So don't sit on it. Talk to an employment law attorney about your next move. It shouldn't cost you anything to get this consultation and get your questions answered. If you miss the deadline, you will forever lose your right to sue your employer on that particular issue.
In Illinois, the general rule is that employment is "at will." This means that you can quit or be fired at any time. You do not have to give notice and neither does your employer. You might have a claim for wrongful termination if you were fired for an illegal reason, however. The law lists these reasons, and they include discrimination based on race, sex, religion, etc. If you were fired for a minor reason, such as showing up for work 10 minutes late one time, or because your manager didn't something that you said, it might be unfair but it's not necessarily illegal.
Illinois' Day of Rest law
Under Illinois law, employers cannot require employees to work seven days in a row. You are entitled to one full day of rest in every seven. There is an exception if your employer obtains a permit and you voluntarily agree to work the extra day or days. There are a few other exceptions for some employees, such as those who work part-time. Check with an employment law attorney if you believe your employer is breaking this law.
Meal breaks and Illinois employment law
According to the law, if you are working 7.5 hours or more at a time, you must get a 20-minute meal break no later than five hours into your shift. The meal break does not need to be a paid break, but you must be allowed to take the time. Illinois generally does not guarantee further breaks beyond the meal break.
Getting hurt on the job
If you are injured at work in Illinois you can file a claim for workers' compensation. You are entitled to benefits, including payment of your medical bills, payment for lost wages and compensation for a permanent injury. All of these things are meant to help you while you recover and get you back to work. Your employer cannot fire you or otherwise retaliate against you for filing a claim. Most Illinois employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to pay these claims. If you get hurt on the job, make sure you seek medical treatment, notify your employer and talk to an attorney if your injury is serious or if your claim is denied.
Your last paycheck
Your employer is required by law to pay you your final paycheck on your last day, if possible, but absolutely no later than the next scheduled pay day. They cannot withhold your pay because they disagree with the fact that you're leaving or because there is some dispute about the situation. You must be paid the money that you have earned. Also, if your employer provides paid vacation, your employer must pay you for any earned vacation that you haven't used.
Getting your job back after military service
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the employment of those who take a leave of absence from civilian jobs in order to serve our country. The law says you must be returned to the same position, including seniority, as if you had never left. There are provisions in the law that protect you from getting fired without cause, allow you to receive retraining if necessary and require that an employer continue your health benefits while you are gone. Make sure to notify your employer ahead of time and report back to work as soon as possible after you return so that you don't lose your rights under this law.
Don't sign a non-compete agreement without legal advice.
A non-compete agreement basically says that you can't compete with your employer down the road if you quit or you are fired. These agreements usually contain specifics about which activities are prohibited and how long you're prohibited from doing them. They also often describe a geographic area where the competing activities aren't allowed.
Non-compete agreements favor the employer. In addition, your employer is usually the one who drafts it. So there are two good reasons to hire an attorney to review the contract before you sign. Even if you do sign the agreement, that doesn't mean it's valid and enforceable. Courts often find that these agreements are too broad or too vague.
There are two main types of sexual harassment in the workplace.
First is the type where a boss or someone else in a position of authority forces you into a relationship or sexual acts by promising something, such as a promotion, or threatening something, such as termination. The other main type is when the general atmosphere is intimidating and inappropriate. This can be because of co-workers, not just bosses. Examples include showing sexually explicit pictures, or making crude jokes or inappropriate comments.
One of the most important things you can do in any situation involving sexual harassment at work is report it. Tell a manager, put it in writing. It can really hurt your case if you don't because an employer isn't going to be held liable for something they had absolutely no knowledge of.
As of January 1, 2011, it's illegal for most employers in Illinois to do a credit check before they hire you.
Established in 2001, findgreatlawyers.com is a free service, run by Illinois lawyers, to find an attorney or obtain guidance for any Illinois legal matter, including Illinois employment law cases. We are attorneys that will talk to you for free, answer questions and try to direct you where to go for help. Please call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614, or fill out our contact us form and we will contact you. Your calls and emails are completely confidential.