Many people do not feel safe at work, and, fearing repercussions, are not willing or able to speak up about discrimination. This vicious cycle keeps systemic inequity deeply entrenched within many workplaces.
Laying the Foundation
For the most part, fear and intimidation account for the low reporting percentage. Fear and intimidation are much more effective when a victim is not sure what to do. Bullies often prey on people who cannot, or do not, stand up for themselves. That is why a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer is such an important partner in these situations.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and impromptu employment discrimination claims rarely get results. Before presenting your complaint, take the following steps:
- Protected Class: These classes include age (over 40), ethnicity (nonwhite), gender, religion, and national origin. Both federal laws, like the Civil Rights Act, and state laws, like the Illinois Human Rights Act, protect certain kinds of workers.
- Adverse Action: This action could take place before, during, or after the employer/employee relationship ends. Frequently, the adverse action is relatively minor. Employers believe they can get away with such actions. But they’re still illegal.
- Make and Preserve Evidence: Write down what happened. Keep all emails and other communications related to the incident. Keep all medical bills as well. Finally, obtain the names and contact information of potential witnesses.
Evidence is necessary because, whether the EEOC or a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer files the case, the victim has the burden of proof.
Informal Report to Employer
Some employers do not believe they did anything wrong. That is especially true if an employment policy has a disparate impact, like a mandatory Saturday policy that disproportionately affects some religious groups. These employers are often willing to do the right thing, especially if the employee presents a well-documented complaint.
“Doing the right thing” usually means a compromise. Assume Jim is adopting a special needs baby and wants an extra month off to care for her. Jim’s boss offers two weeks of additional leave. Legally, Jim is most likely entitled to the month. However, he has the freedom to accept or decline the offer.
Incidentally, accepting such compromise offers is usually a bad idea, not only because the employee is entitled to more, but also because the employer can keep the matter quiet, meaning that other employees in the same situation must go through the same thing.
If employers do not offer satisfactory solutions, the next step is an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim. This federal agency has the power to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
This agency is also very small. So, its lawyers only choose to enforce slam-dunk cases that involve significant damages. Usually, the complaint must involve more than one victim.
If your complaint does not meet this unwritten standard, the EEOC usually rejects it. This rejection is an opportunity. A right-to-sue letter gives a victim a chance to bring the complaint to a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer who vigorously pursues it regardless of the amount of damages, the politics involved, or anything else.
Count on a Thorough Cook County Attorney
Job bias victims have legal options in Illinois. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment discrimination attorney, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline.