Whistleblower Actions - statutory construction
An assistant principal (AP) sued the school board for (a) retaliatory discharge, and (b) violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act. The AP claimed that the board discharged her and retaliated against her exercising her mandatory child abuse reporting duties. After a trial, the jury awarded her $1,000,500.00 for her “retaliatory discharge” claim. However, this verdict was overturned on appeal because the AP was not an at-will employee but instead under contract. Retaliatory discharge actions are only available to at-will employees - not to employees whose contractual term of employment is not renewed. Here, the school board chose not to renew the contract. The court sent the case back to the trial court to assess damages under the Whistleblower Act claim, which the AP also claimed.