Were you terminated or demoted for discriminatory reasons? Did you apply for a job and denied employment based on your race, religion, sex, or another characteristic? You may be eligible to file a discrimination claim. Both state and federal laws exist specifically to prohibit discriminatory practices at work. Filing a discrimination lawsuit, and determining whether to file in state or federal court, can be a complicated process, but an experienced Chicago discrimination lawyer can help.
Employees in Chicago, as well as job applicants, are protected against unlawful discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws prohibit an employer from discrimination against an employee based on any of the following:
The state law—the Illinois Human Rights Act—provides many additional protections. For instance, under state law, employers are also prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of the employee’s sexual orientation. Given that state protections are greater for the employee, it often makes sense to file a discrimination lawsuit in Illinois. However, there are some circumstances in which you may file your case in a federal court.
As we mentioned, the Illinois Human Rights Act provides more protections to employees than does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Given that, it often makes more sense for an employee to initiate a lawsuit in state court, alleging a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. Yet there are situations that can allow an employee to file in federal court instead. Generally speaking, if either of the following conditions exist, then the lawsuit typically may be brought in federal court:
In addition, in order for the case to be heard in federal court, the “amount in controversy” (or the alleged damages) must exceed $75,000. Determining where to bring your case is a complicated decision, and you should always seek advice from a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer.
It is also important to know that filing a claim under Title VII requires the plaintiff to obtain a “right to sue” letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in most cases. In general, most federal employment discrimination claims will require the employee to file a charge with an EEOC field office. The EEOC will investigate, and at the conclusion of the investigation can provide you with a “Notice-of-Right-to-Sue.” This notice allows you to file your lawsuit in court, but you must do it within 90 days of receiving this notice.
In the event that you want to file your lawsuit prior to the conclusion of the EEOC’s investigation, you can request your “Notice-of-Right-to-Sue” earlier. An employment discrimination attorney can help you with this process.