Frequently Asked Questions

About Illinois Employment Laws

Severance Pay and Illinois Unemployment Benefits

In most states, an employee can collect unemployment benefits only if it’s the employer’s fault you lost your job.  For example, if your company can’t afford to pay you anymore or doesn’t like how you perform your job, the unemployment office will likely determine you are eligible to collect benefits as long as you are able and available to start a new job.  Sometimes employers will try to limit your collection of unemployment benefits in a severance agreement by writing a clause that states “You agree not to collect unemployment benefits while you are receiving severance pay”.  Terms that limit your ability to collect unemployment benefits, even if you don’t think you need the benefits, should be challenged.  This is because it’s allowable to collect severance pay and unemployment benefits at the same time.

*In Illinois, you can collect severance pay and unemployment benefits simultaneously.   According to Section 2920.45, amounts paid or payable to the individual as severance pay shall not render the individual ineligible to receive benefits under Section 2920.5.  The nature and purpose of such payments, rather than their characterization, shall determine whether or not such payments are considered severance pay under this Section.

Illinois is an “at will” state, which means an Illinois employer can fire an employee for any reason, at any time. This is powerful as it means many bad actions by your boss, supervisor or human resources are not necessarily illegal.

In other words you must experience an illegal adverse action to take action. While every case is different, you may be surprised to find out it’s perfectly legal for the following to occur in an Illinois workplace:

  • Sudden job termination with no advance warning or real explanation
  • A job transfer or demotion after 10+ years of employment
  • Ostracism by your co-workers
  • Unpaid discretionary bonuses
  • Personality conflicts
  • A mediocre performance evaluation, not made available to other employers
  • Refusing to keep your job open after more than 6 months of leave
  • Denial of unemployment benefits for alleged “misconduct”

However, local, state and federal laws give Illinois employees rights including the right to:

  •  Proper Pay:  Standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping
  • A Safe and Healthy Workplace
  • Equal treatment in the workplace free from discrimination based on race, color, age, genetic information, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, arrest record, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.
  • Join with co-workers, without a union, to improve wages and working conditions
  • Be free from retaliation as punishment for engaging in protected activity
  • Medical accommodations, including a medical leave
  • Collect unemployment benefits when an employer cannot prove “misconduct” or you voluntarily leave your job for “good cause”
  • Accommodations for pregnancy, breastfeeding and sick child rights

Your employer must give you your personnel records IF you or your representative timely request them and you ask within a year of your separation

Under Illinois law, you are entitled to see your personnel records as long as you or your representative request them in a timely manner.  Our team has reviewed hundreds of employee, management and executive personnel files.  Our comprehensive review helps you recognize evidence of illegal actions to advance your case.

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