Illinois Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Illinois Discipline: What you need to know

Progressive discipline is a disciplinary model in which the severity of the punishment increases each time an employee commits an infraction. Generally, the progressive discipline scale starts with an oral reprimand, followed by a written warning, suspension, and finally, termination. Progressive discipline procedures are most often found in collective bargaining agreements and in the public employment arena, but they are becoming increasingly prevalent in the private sector.
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There are two major problems with having a progressive discipline procedure in an at-will relationship. First, it can be time-consuming to administer the steps and generate the accompanying paperwork. Second, a progressive discipline procedure can, under certain circumstances, change an at-will employment relationship to a contractual one.
Illinois courts have been cautious about interpreting oral promises as implied contracts, requiring the language of such a promise to be quite specific.
For example, an appellate court held that an employer's statement to a new employee that he would be employed "as long as it takes" to build a new department and, after that, as long as the employee desired were merely informal expressions of goodwill and did not support the terminated employee's breach of contract action (Robinson v. BDO Seidman, LLP, 854 N.E.2d 767 (Ill. App. Ct. 2006)).
In Illinois, the Supreme Court has ruled that an employer's act in issuing an employee policy manual can lead to employment obligations (Duldulao v. St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center, 505 N.E.2d 314 (1987)).
In this case, the employee brought suit against her employer because it fired her without giving her the three ...

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