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Discrimination in the Workplace

Frequently Asked Questions: Employment Discrimination

Q: How do I know if I'm being discriminated against?
Your employer may discriminate against you in various ways. For example, your employer may a pay you less, or hold you to higher standards than your peers who are similarly situated to you. Whether you are applying for a position or are currently employed, if you are being treated less favorably because of your age, gender, national origin, race, religious beliefs, disability, pregnancy, or sexual orientation, you may be able to hold your employer or other responsible party accountable. To protect your rights, discuss your situation with an employment law attorney who can advise you of your options under federal, state, and local laws.

Q: Can my employer fire me for any reason?
Because Illinois is an employment at-will state, your employer may terminate you for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. For example, firing an employee because she is pregnant is illegal. Just as your employer may not fire you simply because of pregnancy, national origin, or sexual orientation, your employer may not fire you because you have reported or threatened to report discrimination or other illegal conduct at the workplace.

Q: Can I be forced to retire because of my age?
Employers are generally prohibited from forcing employees to retire because of their age. In certain fields, however, mandatory retirement ages may apply. Airline pilots, air traffic controllers, and certain public safety officers may face mandatory retirement due to age.

Q: Can my employer require me to stop working because I am pregnant?
If you become pregnant, your employer cannot force you to stop working simply because of your pregnancy, unless the duties of your job would expose you or the baby to danger. If your job presents dangers to you or your baby, your employer may be required to make reasonable accommodations to protect your health, just as accommodations may be made for a person with a disability.

Q: What are some forms of racial discrimination?
Racial discrimination may present itself in different ways. An employer may only offer a position to members of a specific racial group or exclude persons of a certain racial group. Some types of discrimination are more difficult to identify, and often consist of treating members of specific racial groups less favorably. Harassment involves a hostile work environment through racist jokes, slurs and/or other demeaning actions.

If you have more questions and would like to discuss your case, contact a Chicago employment discrimination attorney at our firm.

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