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What is workplace retaliation?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | EMPLOYMENT LAW (EMPLOYEE) - Wrongful Termination

Employees in Illinois have a host of legal rights. For the most part, employers take these rights seriously and implement policies and procedures that fall in line with the law.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Employers may fail in their legal obligations. If an employee feels they have been mistreated or something unlawful has occurred within the workplace, they are entitled to report this conduct without repercussions.

Repercussions for reporting unlawful activities at work are often referred to as retaliation. What are some of the more common examples of legal actions by employees that sometimes subject them to workplace retaliation?


Employees must not be treated unfavorably because of their race, ethnicity, disability, gender or other protected characteristics. Should this occur, workers are entitled to make formal complaints without facing negative consequences.

Wage and safety issues

Workers in Illinois also have the right to the minimum wage. If an employee is being underpaid and reports this, they should not be punished. The same can be said if an employee refuses to engage in unsafe work practices or reports any form of criminal activity at work.

What does retaliation look like?

Retaliation based on the above factors is unlawful. In practical terms, retaliation often consists of:

  • Being demoted or fired
  • Having hours cut
  • Unjustified negative performance reviews
  • Facing other disciplinary measures

Essentially, any negative consequence imposed by your employer because you asserted your legal rights could be retaliation.

Retaliation can make your working life miserable, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. It’s an unlawful workplace practice. That means there are legal steps you can take. Seeking as much information as possible will give you further insight into what options are available to you.