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Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc.

74 Ill. 2d 172, 23 Ill. Dec. 559, 384 N.E.2d 353 (1978)

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Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc.

Illinois Supreme Court

74 Ill. 2d 172, 23 Ill. Dec. 559, 384 N.E.2d 353 (1978)

Facts

Marilyn Jo Kelsay (plaintiff) was an at-will employee of Motorola, Inc. (defendant). In the early 1970s, Motorola fired Kelsay after Kelsay filed a workers’-compensation claim for a work-connected injury. Kelsay sued Motorola in Illinois state court, seeking damages for retaliatory discharge. At trial, the court directed a verdict in Kelsay’s favor, and the jury awarded damages including punitive damages of $25,000. The state appellate court reversed the judgment, holding that an employee does not have a retaliatory-discharge cause of action against an employer. The Illinois Supreme Court subsequently reviewed the case. On appeal, Motorola argued that although the Illinois legislature had amended the state’s workers’-compensation statute in 1975 and made it unlawful for employers to interfere with employees’ exercise of their rights to seek workers’-compensation benefits, the amendment occurred after Kelsay was fired. Motorola argued that in the absence of a statutory provision prohibiting retaliatory discharge, Motorola had the absolute right to terminate Kelsay because she was an at-will employee.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ryan, J.)

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