Chicago Discrimination Attorney
It is illegal for companies to discriminate when hiring new employees, promoting current employees, and when terminating or firing employees.t. This means that a business cannot discriminate against its employees on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or age. In addition, various states, counties, and cities also outlaw employment discrimination and wrongful termination on the basis of other classifications, such as marital status, sexual orientation, military service, and parental status.
Employment discrimination and wrongful termination claims can be difficult. In order to file these claims, the employee must be able to prove that the reason he or she was wrongfully terminated, not hired, not promoted, or otherwise harassed is due to their “protected classification”. Protected classification is, for example, a term used to describe a person’s gender, race, national origin, age (over 40), or disability.
By way of example, when an employee is experiencing religious discrimination or disability discrimination, it is illegal for an employer to deny reasonable accommodations to the employee. An employer cannot require a person to violate his or her religious beliefs, such as working on the Sabbath, eating a forbidden food, or using alcohol, if doing so is against the person’s religious principles. The employer is required to provide accommodations, enabling the employee to do their job without violating their religious beliefs. Similarly, an employer must accommodate the disabilities of its employees, if those disabilities meet certain standards. If a company terminates an employee without considering an accommodation, this too can be classified as wrongful termination.
This page discusses the proof, definition, and pitfalls of employment discrimination and wrongful termination claims (wrongful termination is a kind of discrimination.) Other pages specifically address the different kinds of employment discrimination:
- Age Discrimination
- Race and Sex Discrimination
- Religious and Disability Discrimination
- Sexual Orientation Disability
What is Discrimination?
Most states, including Illinois, recognize the doctrine of “at will” employment, which means that an employee works for a company only so long as both the employee and the company want to continue working together. In short, the employee can no more make the company give him a job, than the company can make the employee work. With an “at will” employment, you may quit any time, and a company can fire you at any time. Since this means that either the employer or employee needs a reason to end the relationship, most terminations are not considered to be wrongful ones. The only exceptions to “at will” terminations is if the termination was as a result of employment discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation or other illegal reason.
There are many laws that address employment discrimination and wrongful termination, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as several other state and local laws. Some of these laws do require that the employer has a minimum of 15 employees. The number of employees also affects the amount of money that can be recovered for discrimination or wrongful termination claims. In addition, these laws also have different statutes of limitations. If you feel you are experiencing an employment discrimination or wrongful termination issue, you should contact a discrimination attorney as soon as possible.
Employment discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation claims are proven by two different types of methods.
The “direct method” usually involves an admission by the person making the decision that is discriminatory in nature. In most instances when a wrongful termination or discrimination issue happens months or years later, there will not be direct proof. In addition, a comment made by someone other than the person who actually committed the discrimination is typically not considered to be direct evidence.
The “indirect method” of proof is more common. With the indirect method, the employee or applicant must prove that he or she was qualified for the promotion or the job, and is of a different race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or other protected classification than the employees who were offered a promotion or job, as well as obtain the reason for being denied the promotion or employment. The employee or applicant must then be able to prove that the company’s reason was not true and was really discriminatory. Employee evaluations are often helpful in wrongful termination claims. For this reason, it is critical to ensure that you have good performance and attendance, as well as preventing the employer from having another reason to terminate your employment.
Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications
There are specific times when an employer is allowed to discriminate, especially when a particular class is necessary in order to do the job. This is called a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). A good example of a BFOQ is in the case that a men’s prison requires that the guards in certain areas of the prison can only be male in order to protect the privacy rights of the male prisoners. Another example is the ability for a church to refuse to hire a pastor who is of a different religion. When a company claims that the employee has to be a certain sex or other class, BFOQ does not apply to wrongful termination claims.
Proving discrimination and wrongful termination is a delicate task. A discrimination attorney must be familiar with the intricacies of the laws, the statutes of limitation, the physical and emotional effects of litigation on their clients, the interaction of various laws, and the rules of procedure in their specific state. Employment discrimination and wrongful termination cases are a large part of what we do at Maduff & Maduff. If you are concerned about discrimination, wrongful termination or retaliation, it is best to consult with an employment and discrimination attorney.
Discrimination claims can be complex, you need a Chicago discrimination attorney to carefully review your situation. Call us today for help.