Chicago Race and Sex Discrimination Lawyer

Race and Sex Discrimination Generally

The prototypical discrimination claim is for race discrimination or sex discrimination. The first anti-discrimination laws passed in this country were directed at race discrimination, which now includes both employment discrimination and housing discrimination. (This page addresses employment discrimination, but please see Housing Discrimination) for information on that subject. 42 U.S.C. 1981 which prohibits race discrimination in the making and performance of contracts was passed shortly after the civil war. Because employment is a kind of contract, the employment lawyer uses 1981 to pursue race discrimination and wrongful termination cases. Title VII was not passed until the early 1960’s and was the first federal law to address sex discrimination in the context of employment. Putting aside sexual harassment law which grew out of Title VII, race and sex discrimination claims are handled in a very similar manner using either the direct or indirect method of proof. (See Proving Discrimination on our main Discrimination page.)

In the context of employment discrimination, race and sex discrimination come in many forms including: denial of overtime work, denial of or limited bonuses, wrongful termination (although wrongful termination claims are more typical in race discrimination cases than in sex discrimination cases), poor evaluations, differential discipline, and even outright harassment. The key to any kind of employment discrimination claim is that the reason for the discrimination is that the victim is of a particular race or sex. (A man or a white person can just as easily have a reverse discrimination claim if a woman or an African-American commits the discrimination.)

Tangible Action – Losing Money

The most common myth about employment discrimination is that any case where there is differential treatment is a good one. The problem is that in most cases there must be some tangible job detriment or injury – usually this means that the victim has lost money. Wrongful termination is a good example. Other examples include denial of overtime because one cannot get overtime pay if one does not get the overtime, and denial of bonuses (or limited bonuses.) Differential discipline cases become much harder. The fact that women get more write-ups than men or African-Americans get them for infractions that do not result in write-ups for white people may be discrimination, but it can make for a very difficult case because there are no damages (financial injury.) Where differential discipline cases become tangible is when they result in a suspension (without pay), a wrongful termination, a decreased bonus, or other financial detriment. Sometimes this takes several write-ups or similar disciplinary action. This does not mean that you should not take your case to an employment lawyer early. An employment lawyer may be able to help prevent a suspension or wrongful termination if the client brings it to her fast enough. Remember that an employment lawyer will always seek to negotiate a resolution first if possible.

Wrongful Termination as Employment Discrimination

There are several things that mark a wrongful termination discrimination claim. Usually, there is a change in supervisor. (After all, why would someone hire a minority employee and then fire that same person for being a minority?) Many wrongful termination claims come from long standing employees who had stellar work records for years and suddenly get a very poor evaluation or a series of write-ups obviously intended to cover a wrongful termination in the near future. In these cases, an employee can see a wrongful termination coming and should contact an employment lawyer immediately. Remember, an employment lawyer can often help prevent a wrongful termination.

Statutes of Limitation

Title VII requires that an employee file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the act of discrimination (300 days in states like Illinois that have their own anti-discrimination laws, but then if you want to use the Illinois law, you must file your charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in Chicago or Springfield within 180 days of the act of discrimination), and then file the lawsuit in Federal Court within 90 days of receiving a Notice of Right to Sue. (See EEOC and IDHR for more information.) Since sex discrimination claims must use Title VII (or the state law) there is a very short statute of limitations. Note that the act of discrimination could be the wrongful termination itself or anything leading up to it. If a pattern of discrimination results in a wrongful termination, some acts that came more than 180 or 300 days before could be included.

Although race discrimination claims can be brought under Title VII, they can also be brought under 1981. Section 1981 has a four year statute of limitations. Finally, either race or sex discrimination claims can be brought under 1983 if against a government employer. There are many differences between these federal laws and sex discrimination, race discrimination, and even wrongful termination can be treated differently among them. You really need to review your case with an employment lawyer, and since the laws can change from state to state, in Illinois you need to review your case with an Illinois employment lawyer.


There is always a concern that the pursuit of an employment discrimination claim will result in retaliation and wrongful termination. But you have rights against retaliation as well. Please see our Retaliation page for more details.

There are many ways to pursue an employment discrimination claim and you should consult an employment lawyer. As your Chicago Race Discrimination and Sex Discrimination Lawyer Maduff & Maduff, we use all of these laws to assist our clients. Call us for a confidential consultation. No one has to know you spoke to an employment lawyer.

As your Iowa overtime lawyer we represent clients in a variety of areas including DiscriminationCivil Rights and Sexual Harassment.