Like most other jurisdictions, Illinois is an at-will employment state. Employers can fire employees at any time for good reason, or no reason at all. However, employers cannot dismiss employees, or take any other adverse action against them, such as demotion, for an illegal reason. The Supreme Court recently expanded Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. As a result, more Chicago workers are protected from discrimination than ever before.
This extension also means that employment discrimination laws are more complex than ever before. So, a partnership with a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer like Mitchell Kline is essential to protecting your legal rights. Our professional team knows how to identify latent employment discrimination, and more importantly, we know how to prove discrimination in court. We work hard to hold employers accountable when they break the law.
Establishing a legal employment discrimination claim is basically a two-step process. First, the worker must belong to a protected class of individuals. Second, a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer must establish either disparate treatment or disparate impact bias.
As mentioned, the Civil Rights Act set apart a number of groups and gave them special protection in this area. These protected classes include:
The sexual orientation class also includes transgender individuals. Additionally, state and local laws are often broader than federal laws.
Next, there are two basic types of discrimination. Disparate treatment discrimination is treating people differently because they are different. Disparate impact discrimination is unintentional bias. Some policies disproportionately affect some people.
Religious discrimination is a good example. In one famous recent case, a clothing retailer refused to hire a Muslim woman who wore a hijab. That is blatent religious discrimination. Other employers require everyone to work Saturdays or Sundays. Such a policy disproportionately affects certain religious groups.
If you were a victim of employment bias, before you can partner with a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer, you must normally take the matter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is the federal agency charged with enforcing employment discrimination laws. But the EEOC often refuses to follow up on claims which do not suit its political or other agendas.
Once the claim goes to court, victims must establish a prima facie case of discrimination, based on the aforementioned elements. Then, employers can argue that there was a legitimate, neutral reason for the adverse action.
In the hijab case, the employer argued that such individuals did not suit the retailer’s image and that customers in that part of the country might be put off by a woman in a hijab. Understandably, the court rejected these arguments. Employers almost always have excuses when they break the law, but these excuses seldom hold up in court.
Damages in an employment discrimination claim usually include compensation for economic losses. More importantly, your claim forces employers to change the way they do business and give their workers due respect.
Today’s employment discrimination laws protect most workers in Illinois. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment discrimination lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. Virtual, after-hours, and home visits are available.