Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination & Retaliation for Complaining of Discrimination in the Workplace

Though Illinois is an employee-at-will state, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of certain protected categories such as gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race, nationality, age, disability or religious beliefs. You may have a claim for illegal discrimination if you were not hired, or were terminated, demoted, passed over for a promotion, denied an increase, a bonus, training or other benefit, subjected to unwarranted discipline, or were otherwise subjected to less favorable treatment in the workplace based on one of the following protected classes:.

  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy
  • Race/color
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Religious belief

Legally, the term "discrimination" means less favorable treatment because of a person's gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, race, national origin, age, disability or religious beliefs. Discrimination may occur when an employer makes decisions on hiring, promotions, pay rates, benefits, job assignments, training, and discipline.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and/or national origin. Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act also forbids discrimination on the basis of race. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") forbids discrimination against employees who are age 40 or older. The American's with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities, unless doing so would constitute an undue hardship for the employer. The Law Offices of Fern Trevino can review your facts to determine whether you have a claim, and if so, what legal recourse may be available to you.

Illinois is an "employment at-will" state, which means that generally, in private sector non-union settings, employers have discretion to make personnel decisions such as whom to hire, promote, demote, or terminate, whether to provide or deny pay increases, bonuses and benefits, and how to discipline employees.

However, federal, state and local laws prohibit employers from making those decisions based on the above protected categories. Employees often worry that they will not be able to prove discrimination, but courts recognize that discrimination can be subtle and employers can be smart to cover their tracks. Therefore, direct evidence such as “smoking gun” statements or documents is not required to prove discrimination. Courts allow employees to prove discrimination by circumstantial evidence, such as bits and pieces of information that taken together, present a mosaic of discrimination.


The law forbids retaliation against employees for having complained about or reported illegal discrimination. If you have complained of discrimination, and after you complained, your employer demoted or terminated you, or diminished your compensation and/or benefits, you may have a claim for retaliation. To prove a claim of retaliation, you must prove that you suffered an adverse employment action because you complained about or reported what you reasonably believed was discrimination. The Law Offices of Fern Trevino has extensive experience ferreting out facts that support a discriminatory motive.

The firm can evaluate your facts to determine if they are sufficient to support a claim of discrimination and/or retaliation.

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