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Retaliatory Discharge and Forced Resignations/Retirements

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

Imeri Rogers, LLP is an experienced Bloomington, Illinois-based employment law firm. For over 12 years, our Bloomington, IL lawyers have faithfully and aggressively served our clients to ensure they receive the best possible outcome in all employment-related disputes. Should you have any questions involving a potential retaliatory discharge/dismissal claim, please feel free to contact the Bloomington, Illinois attorneys at Imeri Rogers, LLP.

What is retaliatory discharge/dismissal?

In a recent Rule 23 decision, the Illinois Appellate Court (4th District) reaffirmed the well-settled rule in Illinois that the tort of retaliatory discharge does not encompass any behavior other than the actual termination of an employee by the employer. In other words, constructive discharge (i.e., creating a hostile work environment such that the employee quits) is insufficient to sustain an action for retaliatory discharge.

In Illinois, in order for an employee to be able to pursue a claim of retaliatory discharge, they must prove: (1) the employer discharged the employee, (2) the discharge was in retaliation for the employee’s activities (causation), and (3) the discharge violates a clear mandate of public policy.

In the case of Stadel v. Heritage Operations Group, LLC, an employee alleged that her employer forced her to resign after she complained about the verbal abuse she had to endure from her supervisor. The employee specifically alleged that her employer, after she complained about her supervisor, suggested she take an early retirement, which she refused. Despite her refusal to take early retirement, the employer told all of the employee's fellow co-workers that she was retiring "soon", and, at the same time, placed upon her "different working conditions" which undermined her ability to work for the employer. As a result of these measures, the employee resigned and filed a retaliatory discharge claim against her employer.

The circuit court dismissed the employee's retaliatory discharge claim at the request of the employer. The Illinois Appellate affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of the retaliatory discharge claim on the basis that the employee had failed to establish that she had actually been terminated from her employment. The Court noted that under Illinois law, constructive discharge, the creating of hostile work environments so that an employee quits, was not sufficient to justify a claim for retaliatory discharge. Therefore, unless the employer actually terminated the employee's employment, a claim for retaliatory discharge could not stand even when the employer attempts to force the employee to either quit or take early retirement.


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