Illinois employees are protected from retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims. Protection kicks in when a claim is actually filed or when the employer knows the employee was injured and needs medical care.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t fire an injured employee for reasons wholly unrelated to the injury. Employers with a legitimate reason can still terminate the employee.
Recent case: Marion Gordon worked for FedEx and tripped, breaking her wrist. She underwent surgery and was off for about a month. On her first day back, she learned she had lost her job because of a companywide reduction in force. Gordon sued, alleging retaliation.
Her case failed because the company showed it had a legitimate reason for terminating her—namely companywide cutbacks designed to save money. (Gordon v. FedEx, No. 11-2890, 7th Cir., 2012)
- Document and retain evidence that led to firing
- New risk: Workers can claim retaliation even if there's no adverse job action
- 'Forgot' to pay overtime? Ignorance of the law is no excuse
- Worker claimed retaliation? Don't fear legitimate firing
- Remind bosses about legal risk of 'make workers so miserable they quit' strategy