Employment law can be confusing. There are aspects of it that are well known and other aspects that are murky. Here, common questions regarding employment law are provided for your review. As always, however, it is always important if you believe you have been wronged in some way by an employer, co-worker, or other person related to your employment, you should seek the counsel of an employment law attorney.
My Illinois employer fired me without any reason. Is this legal?
The answer to this question is more complicated than one may think. Illinois is an "at-will" state when it comes to employment, meaning that an employer can discharge an employee at any time, regardless of whether the employee has done anything wrong or whether the employer has any justifiable reason for doing so. In other words, your employer can terminate your employment at any time, for--almost--any reason, from being a few minutes late to work to not liking your personality.
This does not mean that an employer can fire an employee for a discriminatory purpose; there are limitations on when an employer can terminate an employer-employee relationship. An employer is not allowed to let an employee go based on his or her age, disability, race, sex, religion, or any other discriminatory purpose if an employee is part of a protected class. If you believe that you were wrongfully discharged from your job due to illegal discrimination by your employer, then you might have a claim against your employer for wrongful termination. An employment attorney can sift through the specifics of your termination to see if you have a solid foundation on which to build a case.
When is harassment in the workplace illegal?
Workplace harassment is ever-present around the country. Sexual harassment, particularly, is an often-discussed form of harassment that many workers face while on the job. While sexual harassment might come to mind first when thinking about harassment in the workplace, harassment can also manifest in many other forms, including:
- Derogatory comments;
- Racial slurs, intimidation;
- Offensive pictures;
- Physical assault;
- Threats; and
- Distasteful jokes.
Anyone in your office can be guilty of harassment, from your boss to a co-worker or even an employee that you oversee. Although certainly uncomfortable, not all forms of harassment are illegal. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality." Rather, harassment in the workplace becomes illegal when putting up with the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continuing to work at your job, or the harassment you endure creates a hostile work environment. If you believe that you have been harassed at work in an illegal manner, contact an employment attorney to discuss the specifics of your incident. Your attorney will be able to determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit based on the harassment you experienced.
Are employers prohibited from doing certain things during an interview?
An employer is indeed restricted from engaging in certain conduct while interviewing an applicant for a job position. Mainly, an employer cannot discriminate against a prospective worker because of his or her member of a protected class, such as race, sex, age, or disability. An employer is strictly prohibited from refusing to interview or hire someone based on their being a member of a protected class.
Employers are also prohibited from putting requirements into place that would discriminate against a protected class. For example, an employer may not require a strength requirement that would prohibit women from being able to qualify for the job. If you believe that you were subject to an unfair hiring test, were not hired for a purpose which is discriminatory, then an employment attorney may be able to help.
I Have a disability. Does my employer have to accommodate it?
Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee--or even a job applicant--because of his or her disability. Furthermore, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations to those who are facing a disability in order to provide an employee or job applicant with an equal chance to succeed. This can include installing a ramp to access the building and providing accessible software for computers and other technology in the workplace. Unfortunately, not all employers find it necessary to accommodate those with a disability, and may even discriminate against those with disabilities. If you feel that you were discriminated against because of your disability, we can help you gain justice for your employer's misdoings.
I am facing discrimination at my job. Is there anything that I can do about it?
This depends on which type of discrimination you are facing--not all types of discrimination are illegal in the workplace. If you are a member of a protected class, however, and believe that you were discriminated against because of your membership in that class, then you might have a claim against your employer for discrimination. Even then, you will need to prove several factors to have a chance of a successful discrimination case, including:
- You are a member of a protected class due to your race, sex, disability, or other factor;
- You experienced discrimination at the hands of someone at your job; and
- Your protected status was a motivating reason that you were discriminated against, even if it was not the only reason.
If you believe that these factors apply to you, then it's important to contact an experienced employment attorney to help you with your case. These cases can be hard to win due to how tough it is to gather evidence that someone at work discriminated against you. Because of this, it's key to have an attorney by your side to help build a strong case for you and help give you the best chance of success.
I was assaulted while at my job. What can I do about it?
Being assaulted at your job can be an extremely stressful event which can leave you feeling unsafe at work. Assault can come in many forms, from physical assault such as slapping or kicking to verbal threats and even sexual abuse. If you are the victim of assault at your workplace, then it is important to follow the appropriate steps to make sure that your rights are protected. It is also critical to hire an employment attorney from the outset to ensure that you are doing everything necessary to better your chances at a successful outcome. From helping you file an assault complaint with OSHA to reporting your assault to your employer, your attorney will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the justice that you are entitled to for your suffering.
I was hurt while on the job. What are my options?
If you were injured while at work, then you may be eligible to receive worker's compensation benefits to help provide financial compensation for your injuries. Workers' compensation benefits can provide coverage for medical expenses which you incurred as a result of your injury, as well as compensate you for lost wages due to time missed from work. Depending on how severely you were injured, these benefits can also provide compensation if you are no longer able to work as a result of your job-related injuries.
Because of how critical these benefits can be following a workplace injury, it is important to seek an experienced workers' compensation attorney's assistance in getting you through the process of applying for benefits. Even a slight misstep can lead to your claim being denied by the Workers' Compensation Commission. While a denied claim can be appealed, you must then wade through a lengthy appeals process, which can cause significant delays in obtaining your benefits.
Why do I need an employment attorney to help me with my claim?
Employment lawsuits have a lot of complicated moving parts, and thus can be very difficult to win. A common hang-up in employment discrimination or harassment lawsuits is the need for evidence of such harassing or discriminating practices. Unfortunately, it is very rare for an employee to state outright that an employee is being fired for a discriminatory purpose. Likewise, if you are facing harassment in the workplace, the at-fault individuals do not often admit that they are engaging in harassing behavior.
An attorney who is experienced in employment law may be able to circumvent your lack of physical evidence of harassment or discrimination or give you advice on how to gather this evidence and keep it safe for a lawsuit. Your attorney can also work to bolster your case and build a solid foundation to provide the necessary proof that you were the victim of such behavior. While you may be able to earn compensation for your suffering and receive the justice that you deserve without an attorney's help, there is no need to chance receiving an unfavorable result because of a lack of the legal expertise needed for a successful suit.
Do you have additional questions or need assistance? Contact us today.
If you are facing discrimination, harassment, or any other type of employment issue, then you know how frustrating this can be, along with how unpleasant it can be to continue to go back to work. You don't have to continue putting up with this abuse, however--the attorneys at Benassi & Benassi are here to help you end the unjust actions you are facing. Let one of our lawyers take the stress off your shoulders and fight for your justice so that you don't have to. To speak with one of our attorneys today, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (309) 674-3556 today.