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
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.