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Being involved in a sexual relationship with a supervisor or other individual in a position of power at your place of employment is fraught with danger from the start. The chance of problems developing at work from fellow employees increases in such instances, but things can really become magnified if the relationship in question ends.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim
If the employee is fired by their boss, there are some instances which can justify litigation for sexual harassment, which in legal terms is called a tangible employment action. That means a person was fired, denied a promotion or had their work status significantly affected due to the end of the relationship.
For example, if nothing in the employee’s previous work record suggests that there were any problems with their effort, an abrupt dismissal is likely to raise a red flag as to the validity of the action.
Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can be the first step in this process, since it documents in your words the history of the relationship. However, if you believe you should be financially compensated for this dismissal, legal action will likely be necessary.
Finding Legitimate Proof
If a copy exists of the most recent performance review that shows in writing that the employee’s work was sufficient, that will help show the action taken was personal and not from a professional standpoint.
The problem with proving that the dismissal was directly related to the end of the relationship is that there can often be little direct evidence to prove that point.
However, there are instances in which the employee will be hard-pressed to win a case. One is when a company’s employee handbook explicitly states that such relationships are forbidden. A company specifically includes such rules in order to protect themselves against these cases.
While there may be a case if the start of the relationship was a prerequisite of being hired, it may be difficult to prove. That’s because either a judge or jury may believe that such a relationship was consensual.
In short, while there can be a basis for a lawsuit related to the end of a workplace relationship with a boss, having enough proof to show that the subsequent firing was connected to it is the key to winning a case. Contact an attorney today by calling 312.332.6733 or contacting us online today.
Rejection is always difficult to stomach, particularly when a potential employer has rejected you. As younger generations enter the workforce, tattoos, piercings and unconventional hair colors are causing a paradigm shift in regards to what comprises a professional look. What if you were passed over for a job because of your hair color and tattoos? Does this represent discriminatory hiring practices?
What Statuses are Protected Under Anti-Discrimination Laws?
Title VII prohibits employer discrimination based upon several protected classifications:
It is also illegal under federal law to discriminate against a job applicant due to their age or disability status.
Is Personal Appearance a Protected Status?
While it’s true that the choice to wear tattoos and unique hair styles falls under the realm of freedom of expression, it’s a murky area in terms of discrimination law. Employers are legally allowed to create and enforce grooming and appearance codes of conduct. However, these must not specifically target a protected class and the rules must relate directly to the job. For example, a restaurant may prohibit long beards on males and require women to tie back their hair for sanitation reasons. An employer could not require that religious head or face coverings be removed, or state that only women must wear a uniform.
Denial of employment due to tattoos can be a major concern, especially amongst younger applicants. Technically, an employer can deny you a job because of your tattoos or hair color. However, this must be a standard that is universally applied across the company. If females are allowed to show their cutesy flower tattoos, men must be allowed to work with visibly masculine tattoos. Otherwise, this could be prosecuted under the precedent of sex or gender discrimination because the employer is favoring women.
If You Feel You’ve Been a Victim of Discrimination, Take Action!
If you feel as though you were discriminated against during the application and job interview process, do something about it! Contact an experienced employment attorney to discuss your case. It may be that you can establish a pattern of discriminatory appearance standard practices, forming the basis of a viable lawsuit. When you stand up for your individual rights, you also fight for a more tolerant and accepting workplace.
Many ethnic groups complain that they are discriminated against because of their inability to speak English the same way as a television anchor. Their claim is that they are well educated, if in a different language, and are highly qualified for the job in spite of a tendency to speak in broken languages. Lawsuits over this subject are not infrequent, and you might be a worker contemplating action.
From a legal point of view, it is often difficult to prove discrimination. Small employers have limited room for advancement and large firms have many candidates from which to chose. The case in favor of discrimination builds over time. Overt employer hostility is good evidence, but more compelling is a long time without advancement when other workers in a similar track are advancing rapidly.
A case for discrimination exists whenever someone meets qualifications for a promotion but is turned aside due to factors not directly related to work performance. A person can speak English poorly, but can write reports with proper grammar. If their primary task is processing information and grinding through paperwork, then good speaking abilities should be less relevant.
Language is a barrier in many jobs, including reception and management. People who speak broken English might be perfectly educated in their own language, but must still be able to communicate with English-speaking workers in order to assume leadership roles. Employers who pass over advancement for these jobs are reluctant to cite speaking ability, because it does suggest discrimination, but it is a legitimate concern for some positions.
Litigation is not the best approach at first, because there will not be enough evidence to make a case. Employers keep their motives unspoken and undocumented, because they understand that their decisions provoke negative feelings when there are many applicants. They wish to survive litigation and have well formulated strategies for avoiding incriminating behavior. Proving discrimination in the modern workplace often requires a long stretch of observation and stacking facts against available opportunities.
Suing an employer carries some risk. All private legal action is paid for by the plaintiff and defendant and often by the losing party. While taking a case to court is not supposed to bias future job prospects, careless litigation does create negative feelings. It should be regarded as the last step in resolving a complicated problem, because other steps can be more profitable to everyone in the long run.
Goldman & Ehrlich is located in Chicago, IL and serves clients in and around Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.
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