Workers in Illinois are hired on an "at will" basis. "At will" means the employer has the right to terminate employees at any time and for any reason. The only limits to the employer's power in this instance is if the firing is for an illegal reason. Despite this fact there are laws in place to protect Illinois workers from abusive employers. There are Illinois state and U.S. federal laws in place that allow an abused employee to take action.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal under federal and Illinois state law. Sexual harassment can involve unwanted sexual advances or physical and verbal acts that are sexual in nature. An employer is guilty of sexual harassment if any type of job-related benefit is offered in exchange for sexual favors or they make sexual statements or advances to an employee that are unwanted. An employee in Illinois must file their case with the Illinois department of human rights within 180 days of the incident taking place.
Creating Hostile Work Environment
Employers in Illinois are prohibited from creating a hostile work environment for employees. A hostile work environment might include sexual harassment but it extends further. Any negative remarks made based on the employees race, national origin, disability or color can result in creating a hostile work environment and a discrimination suit. Employers are prohibited from using verbal abuse toward employees or intentionally treating them differently to make them feel intimidated.
The Whistleblowers Reward and Protection Act
In Illinois, employees are protected and sometimes even rewarded for blowing the whistle on employer wrongdoings. In terms of abuse, this means an employer cannot fire an employee for making a charge of sexual harassment, discrimination or any type of abuse. Furthermore, the employer cannot fire the employee for making a legitimate claim of workman's compensation or reporting any violation of workplace health and safety issues.