Van-Lear Eckert
Experienced Southern Illinois Attorney
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What protections do whistleblowers have under Illinois law?

| Oct 5, 2017 | Employment Law |

We would like to think that the people we work for are ethical and will always do the right thing, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Sometimes employers in Illinois engage in conduct that breaks the law. When that happens, an employee might want to stand up for what’s right, and report their employer’s illegal conduct to the appropriate government authorities. However, the “whistleblower” may fear their employer would retaliate against them if they found out that the whistleblower was the one who reported the illegal conduct. Fortunately, Illinois law protects employees in these situations.

Under Illinois law, employers cannot make any rules that prohibit a worker from reporting illegal conduct to the appropriate authorities if the worker has reasonable cause to think their employer broke the law. Moreover, employers cannot retaliate against workers who report the employer’s illegal conduct either to the appropriate government agency, in court, before a legislative committee or in an administrative hearing, if the worker has reasonable cause to think their employer broke the law. Also, employers are prohibited from retaliating against a worker who refuses to engage in illegal activities.

Also, under Illinois law, if an employer does retaliate against a whistleblower, the whistleblower may be able to seek damages. The worker can seek the relief needed to make them whole again. This might include being reinstated into their former position, being awarded back pay and being compensated for other damages related to the violation, such as attorney’s fees.

As this shows, Illinois law protects whistleblowers by making retaliation illegal and providing workers who blow the whistle with appropriate relief. Therefore, those who believe their employer retaliated against them for blowing the whistle on the employer’s illegal conduct may want to seek the help they need to pursue damages.