Can They Fire Me for That? A Guide to Employment Discrimination
Even in at-will employment situations, there are certain things that an employer is prohibited from considering when making hiring, firing, disciplinary, and promotion decisions. At a federal level, these factors include race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age. Local and state laws may extend greater protections, including prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, genetic information, and a variety of other factors. However, not all anti-discrimination statutes apply to all employers or to all jobs. For example, most federal anti-discrimination statutes only apply to employers of a particular size, so that smaller employers may not be covered. In addition, if an employer can demonstrate that a discriminatory qualification is a bona fide job qualification, then discrimination may be permitted. For example, the owner of a strip club featuring female dancers can hire only female dancers, and even restaurant chains like Hooters, where the sex appeal of the servers is part of the business model, can refuse to hire male servers, though it would face gender discrimination allegations if it refused to hire a male in a gender neutral position.
Of course, if an employer chooses to make an employment decision based on discriminatory practices, the chances are good that the employer is going to provide a facially neutral reason for the employment decision. The burden falls on the employee to establish that the employer engaged in prohibited discrimination. If you feel like you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, you need legal advice to determine your next step. Given that some federal statutes have very short time periods for reporting discrimination, the faster you seek help, the more likely you are to preserve any claims you may have. If you have experienced employment discrimination in the Schaumburg area, attorney Michael Smith would be happy to consult with you.