Retaliatory Discharge

At Donald W. Fohrman & Associates, Ltd., our employment attorneys have the experience and knowledge to investigate, and where legally appropriate, successfully prosecute Retaliatory Discharge lawsuits.

The following is intended to provide the injured and disabled with basic information regarding their rights and remedies under the Retaliatory Discharge laws.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retaliatory Discharge

  1. What is a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?
  2. What type of damages can I recover if I am successful in a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?
  3. Are there any time limitations for the filing of a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?
  4. If I was fired a short time after receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, do I automatically have a viable Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?
  5. What steps can I take to assist my attorney to protect and maximize my recovery in a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?
  6. Do I have any legal obligation after my Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit is filed?
  7. When should I contact an attorney after being fired for exercising my rights to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits?

1. What is a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?

A. Section 4(h) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides, “it shall be unlawful for any employer to coerce or discriminate against, harass, refuse to rehire or recall, fire or threaten to fire or force to resign” any worker in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. Should your employer fire or in some manner forces you to resign, you have the right to file what is known as a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit.

2. What type of damages can I recover if I am successful in a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?

A. You could recover substantial monetary damages for:

  • back pay;
  • future lost wages;
  • mental anguish;
  • attorney’s fees;
  • punitive damages;

If it can be proven that your employer fired you in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. As opposed to Workers’ Compensation awards, there are no limits on the amount of monetary damages you could recover from your employer in a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit.

3. Are there any time limitations for the filing of a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?

A. These lawsuits must be filed in the Circuit Court within two (2) years from the date of termination. Failure to do so will forfeit any rights you may have had under Section 4(h) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

4. If I was fired a short time after receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, do I “automatically” have a viable Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?

A. No. The simple fact that you were fired after applying for or receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, is not, in itself, sufficient. You must present evidence proving that the firing was a “direct result” of or in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.

5. What steps can I take to assist my attorney to protect and maximize my recovery in a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit?

A. If you “sense” that your employer is “getting ready” to fire you as a result of your applying for or receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, you should:

  • File an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission as soon as possible. The filing of this form will effectively negate any defense by your employer that they were “not aware that you had filed for Workers’ Compensation benefits when you were fired.”
  • Keep a daily diary recording all events and conversations which could be relevant to document your Retaliatory Discharge claim.
  • Collect and preserve all written communications you may have received from your employer. Employers will frequently make threatening or other types of incriminating statements to you in the presence of your fellow workers. A fellow worker may indicate a willingness to attest to such statements made by your employer. You should attempt to secure a written or recorded statement from any fellow workers who are witness to any comments by your employer regarding your employment status. After a lawsuit is filed they cannot be relied upon to verify any statements made by your employer for fear of jeopardizing their own job.

6. Do I have any “legal obligation” after my Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit is filed?

A. Yes. After being fired, the law requires you to mitigate your damages. You must attempt to lessen the amount of lost wage damages resulting from the unlawful termination by using your best efforts to secure a new job. You can’t just sit at home waiting for the court to award your damages. You should document, in detail, your job search activities as proof that you have attempted to lessen your lost wage damages.

7. When should I contact an attorney after being fired for exercising my rights to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits?

A. As soon as possible after being fired. The sooner we begin the investigative process and take steps to preserve critical evidence (i.e. secure statements of “friendly” witnesses, etc.) the greater the likelihood that we will be able to successfully resolve your Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit.

If you believe that you were fired in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, contact our office for a free, no obligation telephone consultation with one of our experienced Employment Discrimination attorneys or use our convenient Confidential Contact Form.