Technically, Illinois is an at-will employment state. This means that workers can essentially be let go at any time. However, there are some exceptions to this. Employees cannot be fired for discriminatory reasons relating to protected characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Additionally, a firing cannot be the direct result of whistleblowing.
Many employers are aware of this, so will try to get around this issue through constructive dismissal. In short, constructive dismissal means making conditions at work so bad for you that you have no option but to quit. Outlined below are a few examples of how this works in practice.
Not paying you properly
You know what you are worth and you agreed upon a fair rate with your employer. You made sure that this was written in your employment contract. Nonetheless, you’ve been underpaid recently. When chasing up the issues with payment, you have not received a clear response. You’re fairly sure that it’s being done out of spite, to eventually leave you with no option but to resign.
Encouraging harassment toward you
Your boss seems to have it in for you. You do good work, so it cannot be related to your performance. You see them conspiring with some co-workers who have been making fun of you recently. It’s gone well beyond the point of being a joke and you’re feeling harassed every day. Encouraging harassment or failing to address it could be a form of constructive dismissal if it forces you to quit.
You have a right to feel safe and respected at work. If you’ve been forced to quit, then there may still be options open to you. Make sure you seek some legal guidance and assert your rights as an employee in Illinois.