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Chicago Discrimination Attorneys

It is illegal under federal and state laws for employers or potential employers to discriminate against employees or candidates on the basis of their actual or perceived protected categories such as race, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, nationality, religious beliefs, citizenship status, conviction record, military status, order of protection status, disability, or age (if 40 years old or older). Every employer has the duty to prevent a hostile work environment under both state and federal law.

Unlawful workplace discrimination can include getting inferior job assignments, being passed over for promotion or enduring demeaning comments or offensive materials in the workplace.

What Does Workplace Discrimination Look Like?

Discrimination can take different forms and does not even have to be intentional to be illegal. Two general types of discrimination the law protects against are:

“Disparate Treatment”: This means that an employer intentionally singles out an individual or a group of people for unequal treatment for an illegal reason. For example, a victim of “disparate treatment” might be someone who is:

  • denied a position or a promotion because of race;
  • made to feel unsafe or humiliated because of repeated remarks made by a supervisor or co-workers about women or people of color;
  • pressured by a superior to engage in sexual activity in order to keep a job;

“Disparate Impact”: This term applies when an employer has a policy or practice that has the effect of discriminating—even though it doesn’t single out a protected group for different treatment—and which is not related to an actual requirement of the job. This type of discrimination does not have to be intentional to be illegal. Examples of such policies or practices include:

  • imposing lifting requirements for a job that does not actually require lifting (such requirements tend to exclude women or people with certain disabilities);
  • forbidding employees from speaking any language other than English at all times at work.

What to Do if you are Subjected To Workplace Discrimination

Here are some basic steps you can take, if you are discriminated against by your employer:

  • Record dates, places, people, times and witnesses of the harassment/discrimination. (Note: This must not be done on company time or company equipment and should be kept at home.)
  • Review company policies about discrimination, grievance procedures or arbitration agreements.
  • Put employer “on notice” by informing your superior(s) or human resources about what’s happening.
  • Maintain copies of positive job evaluations or letters.
  • Talk to sympathetic co-workers: you may find others who are encountering the same problems, and if you complain together, the complaints may be taken more seriously.

Seeking Help

If you believe you have been discriminated on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, your employer may be liable. Our attorneys have experience representing individuals and classes in employment discrimination matters and can help you determine whether your rights have been violated and, if so, the remedies to which you may be entitled. It is crucial that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible, as statute of limitations apply limiting your time to seek relief. To report discriminatory conduct, or to obtain more information regarding your right to thrive in a work environment free from discrimination, please contact us. We offer free and confidential consultations.

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