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What Are My Rights Under the FMLA?

If you or a family member should ever be struck by a serious illness or medical condition, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you certain rights to take time off from work. Employees must meet certain conditions to be granted this type of leave, but if they do meet these conditions, they are eligible to return to work at an equivalent position with the same benefits.

While most employers adhere to the provisions of the FMLA, disputes often arise that put hard working employees against an employer they rely on for the job that allows them to provide for their family. When this happens, the employee may file FMLA lawsuits and recover various forms of compensation.

What is the FMLA?

Any employee with a serious health condition requiring in-patient treatment or ongoing treatment by a physician is eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work. The key is that the condition must be serious, such as an illness, injury, mental condition, or even the birth or adoption of a child.

Employees may take all 12 weeks of leave at once or use them in parts to resolve their health issues. Workers are also eligible to work a reduced schedule, in certain circumstances.

Qualifications for FMLA

There are certain conditions employees must meet to qualify for leave under the FMLA. The individual must have worked for their employer for at least one year, encompassing 1,250 work hours (approximately an average of 24 hours per week).

Furthermore, the business must have at least 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius of the company’s location. State and federal agencies must provide leave under the FMLA no matter the size of the business.

What can I recover if my employer violates the FMLA?

Employees discriminated against under the FMLA are able to file civil suits to recover various forms of compensation. These FMLA lawsuits must be filed within two years of the alleged incident or the employee may lose legal standing to recover damages.

FMLA lawsuits can recover damages for:

  • Back wages plus interest
  • Reimbursement for medical care of family member
  • Reinstatement
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Liquidated damages if the employer acted in bad faith

Chicago FMLA lawyers

If you feel your rights were violated under the FMLA, contact or call 312.332.6733 our office for a consultation about your case. Our Chicago FMLA lawyers can investigate the circumstances of your case and determine your best course of legal action.

Will The Illinois Department Of Human Rights Investigate My Discrimination Claim?

The Illinois Human Rights Act affords all state residents certain rights and protections from discrimination. Included in the act are provisions against employment discrimination for various protected classes. Employees who feel they have suffered discrimination may file claims with the Illinois Department of Human Rights to investigate claims and hold wrongdoers accountable.

The list of protected classes under the Illinois Human Rights Act include:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex (including sexual harassment);
  • National origin;
  • Ancestry;
  • Military status;
  • Order of protection status;
  • Marital status;
  • Sexual orientation (which includes gender-related identity);
  • Pregnancy; and
  • Physical and mental disability.

Discrimination charge process

Employees considering filing discrimination charges against their employers should understand there are important time deadlines that must be met or their claim may go unresolved. The time deadline for filing employment discrimination charges with the Illinois Department of Human Rights is 180 days from the alleged incident.

The discrimination charge process is as follows:

  • Intake – the employee files his or her complaint with the Department of Human Resources, either in person or in writing.
  • Mediation – An optional step to the process is mediation, but one that may allow for parties to bring the complaint to a more expedient resolution; otherwise an investigation of the charge takes place.
  • Investigation – The case is assigned to an investigator who interviews both parties to uncover more details about the case. The investigator may recommend a settlement at some point to help resolve the case
  • Findings and results – Once the investigation is completed, the investigator prepares a written report recommending whether or not there is “substantial evidence” of a violation of the act. Should substantial evidence exist, the employee may take his or her complaint before an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission
  • Legal review – A public hearing is scheduled before an administrative law judge. Employees are legally required to have an attorney at this stage of the complaint

Do discrimination claims take long to resolve?

The Illinois Human Rights Act requires the Department of Human Rights conclude its proceedings within one year of the complaint being filed unless the investigation is extended in writing by both parties. While a year may seem like a long time to resolve a case, the law affords due process to both sides involved in an Illinois employment discrimination claim.

Illinois employment discrimination attorneys

If you feel you were discriminated at your workplace by your employer, contact the Illinois employment discrimination attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich for a consultation about your case. Our office serves clients in Chicago and throughout the area, including in Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.

Can the Illinois Department of Labor Investigate My Discrimination Complaint?

When workers in Illinois feel they have been discriminated against, they often have questions about what, if any, their legal recourse might be. Often times, employees feel as though they face an uphill battle against a powerful employer with access to high caliber legal representation.

Fortunately for workers, there are a number of different routes that may be pursued to solve their problems and hold their employers responsible for violations of state and federal laws. One agency tasked with investigating discrimination charges in the state is the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL).

If an employee levels a charge against their employer for discriminating against them in a certain way, the IDOL may step in to investigate the claim. Situations where IDOL may investigate an employer include gender wage discrimination or being a victim or having a member of the household who is a victim of domestic violence.

Filing discrimination claims with the Illinois Department of Labor

Employees who feel their discrimination case warrants investigation by IDOL should strongly consider hiring an experienced Chicago employment attorney to aid them from the onset of the claim. The process can be quite complicated in some aspects and having an attorney from the start can ensure proper paperwork is filled out and time deadlines met.

Employees must file their claims within one year of the alleged incident. With the claim, the employee should include supporting documents such as pay stubs and payroll records. The complaints are anonymous and the IDOL will look back as far as three years to find supporting evidence.

How long do IDOL investigations take?

The length of time an investigation may take depends on the complexities of the case. Investigators will look into whether reasonable cause exists that a violation of the law. Investigations may be conducted either in person or via correspondence between investigators and the employer.

Chicago employment discrimination attorneys

If you feel you received unequal pay due to your gender or were discriminated against because of domestic violence within your household, the experienced Chicago employment discrimination attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich can help you prepare your claim with the Illinois Department of Labor.

Contact us online or call 312-332-6733 for a consultation about your case and discover your legal options. Our attorneys serve clients in Chicago and throughout Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.

Hidden Discrimination in Hiring Process

All employees have what are called “basic rights” in the workplace. These rights include a right to privacy, fair compensation for work performed (no indentured servitude), and freedom from discrimination.

Employees are Protected Against Discrimination in the Workplace

Freedom from discrimination is a very important protection that the federal government provides to employees. Those rights include the right to be free from discrimination based on age, gender, race, national origin, or religion. These rights are extended not only to employees but prospective employees in the hiring process.

Hidden Discrimination in Hiring

What about the hidden discrimination during the hiring process? Discrimination that is subtle and often overlooked. This type of discrimination can happen due to sexual orientation, race, or criminal history. It may be because an applicant doesn’t look like what an employer imagined when hearing his or her voice. Whether the applicant is a different race or transgendered, hidden discrimination can sometimes be detected if an applicant notices a change in behavior or attitude from a prospective employer between the time the application was submitted or phone interview to an in-person interview.

Employers also may not discriminate based on medical records or handicaps. Employers are not allowed to access an applicant’s medical records. They are confidential and as long as the applicant’s medical condition is not a factor in the function of the job. If an employer inquires into any medical history, or implies that they have concerns about a medical condition then that may be a reason for not being hired and considered discrimination.

In order to prove that you have been discriminated against you must show that:

  1. You are part of a protected class.
  2. You were qualified for the position applied for
  3. The job was not offered to you
  4. The employer continued to seek applicants or a less qualified applicant was hired.

Protected class:

To qualify as a protected class you must have been discriminated against based on race, gender, national orientation, disability, religion, and in some cases sexual orientation.

Qualified:

You must show that you were the best applicant for the job. If can be difficult to prove but if another applicant was hired and was less qualified, it may make your case stronger.

Job was not offered to you:

This is an easy requirement to meet. If the job WAS offered to you and you rejected it, then you will not have a case.

Employer continued to seek applicants:

If you were qualified for the position and the employer continued to seek additional applicants, you may be able to move forward with your case. If another applicant who was equally qualified and also a part of a protected class was hired, your case may not be as strong.

Contact a Chicago Employment Discrimination Attorney at Goldman & Ehrlich

If you have questions about hidden discriminatory practices in the hiring process, Goldman & Ehrlich has answers for workers and employers. Call us at 312.332.6733 today or contact our Chicago office online

 

What is Pregnancy Discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination is discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which is an amendment to the title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This protection ensures that a woman cannot be refused employment because of pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions as long as she is able to perform the functions of her job. It also restricts discrimination regarding any other aspect of employment including pay, promotions, trainings, benefits, etc.

Maternity and Pregnancy Leave

An employer may not require pregnant employees to submit to standards different than any other employee in regards to medical clearance procedures. For example, doctor’s statements cannot be required for employees with pregnancy related conditions concerning their inability to work before granting leave or sick benefits if other employees are not required to do the same.

Temporary Disability and Pregnancy

If an employee is unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, providing light duty, modified tasks, disability leave, or leave without pay.

Employers must hold open a position for temporarily disabled pregnant employees with the same terms and conditions as other employees on temporary leave.

There are a lot of examples that demonstrate how and why an employer is not allowed to discriminate against a pregnant employee or one who suffers from conditions or complications from her pregnancy but the main point is that these employees cannot be treated differently than other employees and are entitled to all the same benefits, concessions, and respect as any other employee. From the hiring process to working conditions and leave, pregnancy is not to be seen as a reason or an excuse to treat her differently.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been discriminated against because of pregnancy or a pregnancy related condition, not been given proper leave, or terminated because you needed to take leave, then you may have a case against your employer for wrongful termination. Contact the attorneys at Goldman & Ehrlich at 312-332-6733 or fill out our online contact form and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Workplace Discrimination In Illinois

Federal law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against a protected class. Protected classes include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, and citizenship. In Illinois, the law includes additional protected classes such as mental or perceived handicap, sexual orientation, and military status.

To file a discrimination claim under Illinois law, the claim can be filed with the state agency or the federal agency. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have a cooperative relationship allowing aggrieved parties to a file a claim with either agency. For all employment discrimination claims other than sexual harassment based claims, the employer must have more than 15 employees for the aggrieved party to file a discrimination claim.

In order to bring a valid employment discrimination case, the plaintiff must make a showing that 1) he is a member of a protected class, 2) he was qualified for the job and was performing the job satisfactorily, 3) he was fired by the employer, and 4) he was replaced by someone not in the protected class.

Federal law prevents an employer from engaging in discrimination retaliation after an employee has made a good faith claim of discrimination. Not everything an employer does it considered retaliation. Only when an employer changes his conduct towards you and that has an adverse effect on your employment is it considered discriminating retaliation. The most obvious case of retaliation is if you make a complaint, and you are immediately fired or demoted. Usually, however, an employer retaliation is not this clear cut.

Many cases are settled at the administrative level. But sometimes, it is not possible for the parties to reach a mutual agreement. If the case cannot be resolved by the federal or state administrative bodies, it will be necessary to pursue your claim in court. A plaintiff must exhaust all administrative remedies before seeking the involvement of the court. Under Illinois law, there is no private cause of action for employment discrimination, which means that discrimination lawsuits cannot be filed in Illinois state court.

If you chose to pursue the lawsuit after administrative remedies have been exhausted, this is the time to seek the help of an experienced employment lawyer who is familiar with Illinois and Chicago employment law.

Determining if you weren’t a good fit for a job or if you were discriminated against

It may be difficult for a worker to determine whether discrimination is present in the workplace. He or she may be told, “You weren’t a good fit for a job,” or “You don’t fit our culture.” Employer explanations in such cases are designed to confuse the worker, or cause him or her to believe the fault of not “fitting in” is theirs. In such situations, the worker may benefit from consultation with an experienced employment lawyers to learn more about employment discrimination or wrongful termination remedies.

Employment discrimination and discrimination in the workplace are prohibited by U.S. laws. Discrimination may be present but more subtle today than in years past. Discrimination is present when the employer or institution arrives at decisions about workers based upon religion, sex, disability status, national origin, age, race or color. It is illegal to discriminate against workers in the United States according to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

There are two basic types of discrimination in the workplace:

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is easy to identify, such as when a business determines a worker’s job or pay based on his or her age, sex, religion, or race instead of merit and ability. When an employer or organization directly discriminates against an individual in this way, it is difficult for them to legally support these actions.

Indirect Discrimination

In comparison, indirect discrimination is more difficult to identify because it involves less obvious behavior. For instance, a company’s regulations, practices, and policies do not appear to favor a group over another when an attorney examines the employee manual. In practice, however, the business may indeed discriminate against certain individuals.

For instance, some people working at the company may be less able to meet requirements or comply with the company’s “best practices.” A working mother or a man taking care of a disabled son may not be able to adhere to the company’s full-time week mandate of forty hours every week of the year. The employer may discourage taking the lunch hour out of the office even if the employee must clock out for lunch. An employee with a serious medical condition may need time off for tests or treatment and may be prevented from working a full day or week.

Stand Up to Discrimination

Job discrimination includes practices and actions of a business or organization or its agents and representatives that include the unfair or illegal treatment of workers, candidates for promotion, prospective employees, or present employees. All workers in the United States are protected from discrimination for age, race, pregnancy, or gender factors. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against, contact us today.

Discriminated against because of my marital status

When you work for a company, you expect to be treated fairly. You might not always get everything that you want, but you should always expect to be treated with respect and courtesy. When the people around you are treated differently than you, though, your workplace becomes less safe for you – and less safe for the community around you. Unfortunately, some companies feel like they can discriminate based on anything they like – including the marital status of their employees. Doing so is not just immoral, but is contrary to the laws that have been put in place to protect employees.

You cannot be discriminated against because of your marriage. It doesn’t matter the reasoning that your company gives you, nor the lies they hide behind. They may tell you that they only hire people without family commitments, or that they prefer to hire “stable” individuals. What they’re really trying to do is dictate the way that their employees live, and they are breaking the law. Unfortunately, many companies get away with such actions because their employees don’t understand their rights. No one has the right to hire, fire, or treat you differently based on your marital status in the United States.

You should always be careful to document anything said to you that’s based on your marital status, as this can become important to your future. You’re not just looking at whether you were hired or fired – promotions, time off, and even treatment within the office should not depend on whether or not you have a spouse. This should be a private matter for you, not one that your company exploits to make decisions.

If you are discriminated against because of your marital status, your first move should always be to contact an attorney. There is no excuse that can help a company if it is truly making decisions based on whether or not its employees are married, and you don’t deserve to have your livelihood threatened based on that fact. Employees deserve a certain level of respect and dignity, and that means that a company should never be able to dictate the marital status of the people who it chooses to employ.

I Was Not Hired Because I Am A Senior Citizen. What Are My Rights?

If you were denied a job because of your age, then it is important to note that you have legal protections. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who are over the age of 40. Lyndon B Johnson signed this bill into law. Employers are not allowed to hire, fire or discharge someone who is over the age of 40 because of their age. Furthermore, it is against the law for a senior citizen to be harassed in the workplace because of their age.

It is important to note that there are certain groups that are excluded from protection under the Age Discrimination Act of 1967. This includes military personnel, independent contractors and elected officials. Businesses that have at least 20 employees, the federal government, labor organizations and local and state agencies are examples of companies that are required to comply with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Older employees are also protected under the United States Equal Opportunity Commission. This is an agency that protects employees from discrimination. The United States Equal Opportunity Commission was first established in 1965.

People who are over the age of 40 have likely been in the workforce for many years. The experience of older people is one of the many things that makes them valuable to the workplace. This is why employers should not discriminate against employees because of their age.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employers from saying that they prefer a certain age in their job ads. It also prohibits them from setting an age limit on their training programs. Additionally, employers are prohibited from forcing people to retire at a certain age, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

Because there have been protections put in place to protect older employees from age discrimination, you may be able to file a claim against the company. It is best for you to contact a lawyer if you feel you have been a victim of age discrimination. Your attorney will investigate the employer’s human resource practices and can help you get a settlement.

My company does not have a rule about inter-office dating, but I was fired for dating a co-worker (he wasn’t fired)

To avoid sexual harassment issues and misunderstandings among employees, more companies are developing policies for interoffice dating. A well-written statement helps to clarify boundaries and expectations on what is considered to be acceptable behavior between colleagues within the same organization.

What if my company has no policy?

In the absence of this type of policy, or if it has not been widely distributed or explained, employees are likely to be uncertain about whether they are allowed to date coworkers. In such situations, it is usually a good idea to check with a supervisor or the personnel department. If employees assume that a relationship is acceptable and do not inquire about its appropriateness, they may end up breaching de facto protocol even if no written policy exists.

However, this does not mean that any rules have been broken, especially if pertinent rules do not exist or are not generally understood by all employees. If an employee knew that dating was unacceptable but continued to see a coworker anyway, that might constitute a breach of verbal policy. Typically, an employee’s unacceptable conduct should be discussed with a supervisor to clarify the problem. If the employee subsequently and knowingly continues to violate company standards or policies, disciplinary action may follow.

In the situation cited here, an employee explains that the office has no rule against interoffice dating. Therefore, when it was discovered that two coworkers were indeed in a social or dating relationship, one was fired, while the other was not. Without further details to explain why one person was let go and the other retained, it appears that discrimination or imbalanced discipline may have occurred. If both employees are in a dating relationship that the company frowns on, why was only employee terminated?

Getting all the details

Is there more to the story? For example, did the fired employee date several coworkers and receive a verbal warning without a written policy in place? If so, maybe that is the basis for termination. If not, the matter needs to be further explored to determine if discrimination occurred, and if so, why? If it turns out the fired employee was unjustly terminated, there may be recourse for being rehired or some type of compensation, based on the circumstances.

Contact one of our dedicated attorneys at Goldman & Ehrlich by phone 312.332.6733 or online today.