Newly published research from a pair of University of Illinois law professors examines unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act: harassment and retaliation suits.

“If you decide not to offer insurance, then you have to pay some pretty hefty fines to the government,” says Peter Molk. With those costly choices, Molk says, “it can be a pretty tough thing for (employers) to grapple with.”

Smaller companies could choose to reduce their full-time workforce, as 50 is the number of employees which triggers the requirement for employers to provide insurance.

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“For employers, there are three different options: They can provide adequate coverage, inadequate coverage or no coverage at all,” co-author Suja A. Thomas said in a statement. “In terms of loopholes, they could offer adequate insurance but could ask job applicants about their coverage in an attempt not to hire people who may seek coverage. They could offer inadequate insurance, but threaten employees not to elect coverage through the health exchanges, because then the employers would have to pay a fine. Or employers could offer no coverage at all and pay the fines, which do increase over time; it might be worth it if they calculate that they come out ahead monetarily by not offering coverage.”

These provisions of the law go into effect in 2015. Molk and Thomas' research will be published in the Cornell Law Review Online.