Fighting For Workers In Pay Disputes Since 1987

How long do you have to file a wrongful termination lawsuit?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2023 | Employment Law

Losing a job is rarely a pleasant experience. The situation becomes more bitter when an ex-employee suspects the termination was unlawful.

A person who believes a termination is wrongful has legal protections but must meet certain requirements to bring a case, including filing within the statute of limitations.

The timeline for filing wrongful termination suits

If an ex-employee wants to challenge a dismissal on the basis of a contractual claim, written employment contracts have a statute of limitations of 10 years. Oral agreements have a shorter deadline of five years.

Discrimination claims have a limit of 180 days by national law. The plaintiff must file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the State of Illinois also prohibits the act, the statute raises the limit to 300 days. Tort claims due to a termination in violation of public policy must come before the court within two years.

Factors that determine if a firing is illegal

Illinois permits companies to fire employees at any time for any legal reason because employment contracts are at-will. At-will means an employer can change employment terms without notice. Additionally, workers may leave a job for any reason without legal consequences.

The at-will rule has a few exceptions. An employer may not violate the terms of a contract. A company also may not fire an employee due for the following reasons:

  • Protected time off
  • Retaliation against protected actions
  • Discrimination

Workers should be aware that the number of employees in an organization can affect the types of discrimination claims a person may file.

Filing a wrongful termination suit requires understanding various procedures. Plaintiffs have much work to do to build a strong case.