Employment Discrimination Law
Federal (e.g., Title VII, ADEA, ADA) and various state employment discrimination laws protect employees and prospective employees from discrimination on the basis of their race, national origin, color, sex, gender, religion, age, and disability. These same employment discrimination laws prohibit harassment of employees for the grounds listed above, and prohibit employer retaliation against employees who complain about such discrimination or harassment, against themselves or others, to their employer or to any governmental agency or in a court proceeding.
It is illegal to discriminate in hiring, promotions, termination (known as wrongful termination) or other aspects of employment on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or age. It is also illegal to retaliate against an individual for opposing such practices, or consulting an attorney or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or equivalent state entity such as the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). In addition, various states, counties and cities also outlaw employment discrimination and wrongful termination on the basis of other classifications like marital status, military service or parental status.
An employee in an employment discrimination and wrongful termination case must prove that the reason he or she was fired, or not hired or not promoted, is because of his or her “protected classification.” In other words, you have to prove that you were denied employment or a promotion because of your race, gender, ethnic background, age or other discriminatory factor.
Proving employment discrimination and wrongful termination is done by one of two methods. The first method is called the “direct method” which is easier to prove, especially when someone other than the plaintiff hears the comment. The “direct method” often involves a direct admission, such as saying a woman does not belong in a man’s job.
The second method is called the “indirect method” which is very much like it sounds and requires three steps:
- Employee must prove that he or she is qualified for the promotion or job and is of a different social background, gender or other protected classification than others who received the promotion or job.
- The company must give another reason for different treatment, such as poor performance but can be just about anything.
- The employee must prove the other reason is a lie
Because the burden of proof lies with the employee, and because discrimination and wrongful termination, much like sexual harassment lawsuits, must be handled with care, it is important to hire an experienced discrimination and wrongful termination lawyer such as you will find at Werman Salas P.C. We help you navigate the legal waters of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and many state and local laws as well such as the Illinois Human Rights Act. These laws have different statues of limitations that have an impact on not only whether or not you can file, but whether there is a limit on the amount of back pay that you can collect.