Even though Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act more than fifty years ago, employment discrimination is still a significant issue in Chicago. This is largely because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the agency charged with enforcing Title VII, is reeling from the cumulative effect of years of budget cuts. So, it usually only takes cases which are very easy to prove and which it can settle quickly.
Fortunately, aggrieved Illinois workers can count on an experienced employment law attorney to take up the slack and stand up for them in cases of employment discrimination. Here are a few of the more common ones that come through our office.
How to Prove Gender Discrimination in Chicago
Many of these cases involve the male-female pay gap. On average, female workers earn about 80 percent of what their male colleagues earn for substantially the same work. Pay discrimination often has very deep roots. For example, many women work in female-dominated professions, such as teaching and nursing. Low compensation is often an issue in these industries, especially in certain parts of Chicagoland.
To obtain compensation in these cases, the plaintiff must establish the following:
- There is a pay discrepancy between men and women who pursue the same occupation. This element is not always easy to establish, because employers often vehemently argue that there is a difference between a teacher in Chicago and a teacher in Schaumburg.
- Next, the employer has the opportunity to prove that there is a non-discriminatory reason for the pay discrepancy. Many employers use the argument that the female worker had a lower salary when she joined the company, and human resources based her current salary on her former compensation.
- The employee may then present evidence that the business reason is simply a pretext for discrimination.
Discrimination victims must prove their cases by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not.
Racial Discrimination Issues in Illinois
These cases are usually either decision-based discrimination or hostile environment discrimination. If the employer makes an entry or exit-level decision, or a promotion/pay increase decision, that favors a person of one race over a person of another race, the plaintiff has a prima facie discrimination case. The above analysis applies as to the further merits of the case. Hostile environment cases follow a similar pattern.
The Legality of Pregnancy Discrimination in Chicago
Here in Chicago, attorneys see more and more paternal pregnancy discrimination cases. For example, a company may refuse to hire a pregnant woman for certain jobs which involve exposure to possibly hazardous chemicals. But in these cases, the choice belongs to the worker, and not the company. “Well-meaning” discrimination is still illegal discrimination. Typically, the EEOC only accepts smoking gun pregnancy discrimination cases, viz, the employer rescinds a job offer once it discovers that the applicant is pregnant.
Why is National Origin Discrimination Prominent in Illinois?
There are so many LEP (Limited English Proficiency) workers in Chicago that the English-only workplace is often an issue. Employers have the right to make such a designation provided that they have a legitimate business interest for doing so. The need is at least arguably apparent in many customer-facing positions, but usually not there in any other positions.
Reach Out to an Assertive Attorney
Employment discrimination, whether subtle or overt, is rampant in many workplaces. For a confidential consultation with an aggressive employment law attorney in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Mitchell Kline. Our main office is conveniently located in downtown Chicago on LaSalle Street.