Federal Appeals Court Finds Illinois Law Applies to Retaliatory Discharge Lawsuits, Placing Greater Evidence Burden on Plaintiffs

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On July 15, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit released its opinion in Gacek v. American Airlines, Inc., and it’s big news for plaintiffs seeking justice from evildoing employers for retaliatory discharge. The news isn’t good.

Retaliatory discharge is when someone is fired without good cause as the employer retaliates against them, firing them in response to an action that the worker has taken. Whistleblowers, for example, risk retaliatory discharge by their employer.

Under the federal standard, the plaintiff only needs to show the employer’s reasons for firing the plaintiff were just pretext — unworthy of belief. That’s a lesser burden than having to prove causation.

This decision will make it much tougher for plaintiff's cases; no word yet whether the case will be appealed.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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