Illinois Employment Law

At-Will Employment

In Illinois employment law, Illinois is an employment-at-will state, meaning that employers can generally terminate employees for any reason or no reason at all. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as when the discharge violates a clearly mandated public policy or is in retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim.

There are certain protected categories that can prohibit a company or employer to terminate an employee. You cannot be fired for race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, disability and age.

Business Litigation Practice Area

Discrimination In Illinois

Discrimination and Harassment: The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Recent amendments to the IHRA allow complainants to opt out of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) investigation and commence a lawsuit in circuit court. Additionally, the time limit for filing a charge with the IDHR has been extended from 180 to 300 days.

For more information on discrimination with Illinois employment law, click here to view our discrimination page.

Employee Rights

Illinois Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Illinois employment law is currently $12.00 per hour, but it is scheduled to increase gradually each year until it reaches $15.00 per hour in 2025. Tipped employees and employees under 18 are subject to different minimum wage rates.

The minimum wage rates for tipped employees in Illinois vary depending on the location and size of the employer. In general, the state minimum wage for tipped employees is $6.60 per hour, but in Cook County it is $8.00 per hour and in Chicago it ranges from $9.00 to $9.48 per hour, depending on the size of the employer.

Minimum wage workers are more likely to be taken advantage of than other types of employees. Many employers will try to not pay minimum wage workers proper overtime, which is time and a half for every hour worked over 40 hours. Illinois employment law helps protect those workers. If you aren’t getting paid proper overtime, call us.

Overtime Client Testimonial

Illinois Wage & Hour Laws

Illinois employment law has a number of wage and hour laws that employers must comply with, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, Illinois Equal Pay Act, the One Day Rest in Seven Act, and the Family Bereavement Leave Act. Recent changes to the Illinois Equal Pay Act require employers with 100 or more employees to obtain an “equal pay registration certificate” from the Illinois Department of Labor.

Illinois Equal Pay Act

The Illinois Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex or race by paying them different wages for the same or substantially similar work. Exceptions to this rule include wage differentials based on a seniority system, merit system, or system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on any other factor other than sex or race, provided that the factor is job-related and consistent with business necessity.

One Day Rest in Seven Act

The One Day Rest In Seven Act (ODRISA) is an Illinois employment law that regulates the hours and days of rest for employees. The Act generally requires employers to provide employees with at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every consecutive seven-day period. However, there are exceptions to this requirement, such as for part-time employees, employees needed in case of emergencies, and employees in certain industries (e.g. agriculture, coal mining, canning and processing perishable agricultural products, watchmen or security guards, and crew members of uninspected towing vessels).

The Act also requires employers to provide meal breaks for employees working at least 7.5 hours. Specifically, employers must provide at least 20 minutes for a meal period beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the work period. For hotel room attendants, the Act requires two 15-minute breaks and one 30-minute meal period in each workday in which the room attendant works at least seven hours.

The Act is enforced by the Director of Labor, who is authorized to make and enforce rules and regulations related to the Act. Employers who violate the Act are subject to fines and damages. Recent amendments to the Act, which take effect on January 1, 2023, increase the penalties for violations and add a notice requirement for employers.

Fair Labor Standards Act

Illinois overtime laws generally follow the FLSA, which requires employers to pay employees one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. However, there are some exceptions, such as for certain salespeople, mechanics, agricultural laborers, and government employees. This is an Illinois employment law, but a federal law. For more information on the FLSA and its exceptions, click here to view our overtime blog.

Overtime Rights

The Family Bereavement Leave Act

The Family Bereavement Leave Act (5 U.S.C. § 6329d) defines key terms, sets out the amount of leave an employee is entitled to, and outlines other requirements. Specifically, the Act defines “employee” and “son or daughter” according to section 6381, and “paid leave” as leave without loss of or reduction in pay, leave, or credit for time or service.

Under the Act, employees are entitled to two weeks of paid leave in any 12-month period because of the death of a son or daughter. However, the Act does limit the leave in two ways. First, employees cannot take the leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule unless they and their employer agree otherwise. Second, if the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide reasonable and practicable notice to the employer.

Workers’ Compensation

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to employees who are injured or contract an occupational disease while on the job. The definition of “employee” under the Act is broad, and includes most workers in the state. Employers, according to Illinois employment law, are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.

Workplace Safety

Employers in Illinois according to Illinois employment law must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Act (IOSHA). These laws require employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise safety concerns.

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