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Northern Illinois University Law Review


The at-will employment doctrine is more than a century and a half old. Illinois has long subscribed to the at-will employment doctrine, but the doctrine is dying a slow death. The doctrine has positive and negative aspects, but the lack of employee job security will prove to be a fatal flaw. The doctrine is not so well founded in reason or legal history to save it. Employee job security is becoming increasingly desirable and important. The legislatures and courts are making significant inroads on the doctrine to protect employee job security. A bill to abrogate the doctrine and require cause for discharge has surfaced in Illinois, and while unsuccessful this legislative effort will undoubtedly be revisited. Illinois will need to prepare for the aftermath of the doctrine’s demise. Legislation is the best bet for a quick and durable fix. A simple approach to legislation in this area has the best chances of political viability. A good fix would consist of a concise statute abrogating the at-will doctrine, requiring that any employer have just cause for terminating any non-probationary employee, and affording an aggrieved employee a private right of action for wrongful discharge (with the employee having the burden of establishing a lack of just cause) to be pursued in the Illinois Circuit Courts.

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College of Law

Suggested Citation

Daniel S. Alcorn, The Future of Employee Job Security in Illinois, 44 N. Ill. Univ. L. Rev. 1 (2023).

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Law Commons



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