Illinois Employment Law
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Illinois Employment Laws
In addition to Illinois state laws, there are federal employment standards that businesses must respect and follow. Below is a basic overview of Illinois employment laws, as well as how those laws interact with federal standards.
Illinois Is an "At Will" Employment State
At-will employment is by far the most common type of employment relationship in the United States. At-will employment describes an agreement where the employee may be terminated at any time for any lawful reason without any notice whatsoever.
This dynamic heavily favors the employer. However, it is important to keep in mind that this set-up preserves an employee’s right to seek other employment at any time. Additionally, there are vital exceptions to at-will employment.
Specifically, under Federal law an individual can never be fired based on:
- National origin
- Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
- Age, at or after 40
Illinois goes a step further and protects the following categories under Illinois’s employment laws:
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Citizenship status
- Military status
- Unfavorable military discharge
- Gender identity
- Arrest record
- Victims of domestic violence
- Order of protection status
- Lack of a permanent mailing address
- Using the mailing address of a shelter or social service provider
Although this list is long, it is not exclusive. In addition to the general categories listed above, there are several other specific reasons an employer can use as means to discharge an employee.
Illinois Wage and Hour Laws
Although there are federal laws controlling the very minimum every worker is entitled to, Illinois departs in some important ways.
1. Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25. This is above the federal minimum wage.
It is worth mentioning that minimum wage may vary depending on the type of work an employee does. For example, employees that work for tips are only legally entitled to a minimum of $4.95 an hour, assuming the employee makes at least $20 in tips a month, and they are paid at least the standard minimum wage when tips are combined with hourly work.
2. Overtime: The most notable exception to the minimum wage is overtime. As is fairly standard practice, Illinois pays a rate of 1 ½ an employee’s standard pay rate for every hour over 40. However, there are a handful of employees who are not covered under overtime rules, including:
- Outside salesmen
- Computer employees
- Employees of religious organizations
- Employers with less than 4 employees
- Agricultural workers
- Protection from Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
According to federal anti-discrimination laws, every employee enjoys some protection from discrimination and sexual harassment. Illinois employment laws protect against:
- Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted, deliberate or repeated sexual behavior. This includes any sexually suggestive objects, signs, magazines, communications, or pictures. Whether the conduct will be considered harassment will depend largely on whether the person hearing, seeing, or being touched has not solicited the attention.
- Discrimination: Referring to the "at will employment" section will clearly outline many of the generally protected categories under Illinois’s employment law.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Illinois’s employment laws are vast and complicated. If you are under the impression that your rights have been violated, you should contact an employment attorney immediately. A lawyer will be able to assess the strength of your case under Illinois’s employment laws, and help you proceed with the strongest approach available.
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Last Modified: 09-15-2014 03:22 PM PDT
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