Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Employment Law 101 in Illinois
The purpose of our website is to provide accurate, useful and accessible information about Illinois law for anyone who needs it. We realize, however, that the law is often confusing no matter how clear we try to be, and the amount of information available online can be overwhelming.
If you are looking for an immediate answer to your Illinois legal question, give us a call. You can talk to an attorney, for free, and get some personalized guidance. If you want to read up on a topic first, browse our pages.
To get you started, here are some of the main issues that come up in employment law:
- Illinois follows the rule of at-will employment. This means that in most cases your employer can fire you at any time, for any reason or no reason at all. There are exceptions. If you have an employment contract or you are in a union, the rules may be different.
- The at-will employment rule also means that you do not have to give an employer a two-week notice before quitting a job.
- Despite this rule, there definitely are some reasons for firing an employee that are illegal. Your boss cannot fire you based on race, sex, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or pregnancy, to name a few. Your employer cannot discriminate against you in making decisions about promotions, pay or benefits based on these reasons.
- You cannot be discriminated against in the workplace based on disability, and your employer has to make reasonable accommodations in order to help you do your job.
- You cannot be fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- If your employer is refusing to pay you what you’ve earned, you can contact the Illinois Department of Labor to try and resolve it problem. If you are owed a significant amount of back pay, you may want to hire an attorney.
- When taking a job, you may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement that limits your ability to work in your field in competition with your employer. It’s a good idea to have a non-compete reviewed by an attorney. Not all of these contracts are enforceable, especially if they aren’t reasonable or necessary. They shouldn’t be too long or broad.
- If you work more than 40 hours in a week, you may be entitled to overtime pay of 1.5 times your pay rate. However, many jobs, such as management and administrative positions, are exempt from this rule. Many small businesses are exempt, as well.
- The One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA) requires employers to give employees at least one day off a week. The day of rest is 24 hours of consecutive time off, not including the time off at the end of the previous work day. So just because there are 24 hours between your shifts doesn’t mean it counts as your day off.
- When working 7.5 hours or more at a time, most employees in Illinois are entitled to 20 minutes of unpaid meal time. The meal break must occur no later than 5 hours into the work period.
- Employees in Illinois are not entitled to additional breaks beyond the meal period, except for certain Cook County hotel workers.
- If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, report it to a supervisor. If they don’t know about it, it will be tough to hold them accountable. There are two main types of sexual harassment: (1) when someone above you asks you to engage in an act or relationship in exchange for something work-related, and (2) a work environment that is intimidating or offensive because of sexual jokes, pictures, comments, etc.
- Employment attorneys charge their clients a few different ways. Some cases are handled on an hourly basis. For something specific, such as reviewing a contract, you might pay a flat fee. If you are suing your employer, your attorney may handle the case on a contingency basis, where you only pay if you win.
- When looking for an employment attorney, make sure they have a lot of experience in employment law in general, as well as specific experience handling your particular issue.
This is just an overview of Illinois employment law. How it applies to you depends on your situation. Give us a call or send us an e-mail if you want to discuss your issue with an Illinois attorney, for free. If you decide to take action against your employer, we will give you a referral to an experienced employment attorney who we think can best handle your case.
If you need to hire an attorney or you need guidance on any Illinois legal matter, including Illinois employment law, you can contact us. Findgreatlawyers.com is a free service run by Illinois attorneys, helping you with your legal questions since 2001. We keep all inquiries strictly confidential. Please call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614, or you can fill out our contact us form and will contact you.