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Walking a Thin Line – Chain of Command versus Whistleblower Protections

Illinois employment law attorneyBusinesses often incorporate a “chain of command” to ensure everything remains in working order, but there is a thin line between this and the whistleblower protections under state law. How do you avoid crossing the line? What more do you need to know about whistleblower protections to ensure you do not violate the law? The following explains.

District 60, a Cautionary Tale

In July of 2017, District 60 sent a letter to its maintenance and custodial staff, advising them to follow the chain of command or face disciplinary action; this was not the issue with the letter. Instead, the concern was over some of the examples provided by the district. Some of the acts, such as purchasing luxury furniture (possible embezzlement of funds) are illegal, and Illinois state law protects employees who report or refuse to participate in illegal acts.

Though no real action has been taken against the district, and the superintendent states that it never meant to imply that employees could not report illegal acts to the authorities, the letter does blur the lines a little. Ultimately, if it had not been featured in the news, it may have caused an employee to feel as though they could not report something illegal, which would have violated the protections that are offered under Illinois law.

A Closer Look at Whistleblower Protections

Employees have the right to a safe work environment – that includes safety from illegal acts, harassment, and negligence. Whistleblower protections help to ensure this right is upheld. It strictly prohibits employer retaliation for any reporting of illegal or wrongful acts taking place within the workplace. It also states that employers can face serious consequences if they violate the law. As such, it is crucial that employers practice due diligence before releasing a chain of command statement, such as the one recently released by District 60.

Whistleblower protections do not protect an employee if they leak information to the media or other similar sources. If you, as an employer, experience such a situation, it is critical that you find legal assistance. You should also seek legal help if you need to create a chain of command rule, or any other rule that could potentially infringe upon the rights of your employees.

Contact Our Illinois Employment Law Attorney

At the Miller Law Firm, P.C., we strive to protect businesses in Illinois from the consequences of legal mistakes. We can also represent you in litigation. Learn more about how our Illinois employment law attorney can assist with your case by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call 847-995-1205 today.


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