Discrimination Law Chicago

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination is when an employee experiences some adverse action based on a protected characteristic such as race, gender, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity by employers. Discrimination can take many forms, whether it be sexual harassment, pay discrepancies, denied promotions, termination, and many others.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from subjecting employees to and adverse employment action on the basis of protected categories, including race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), and national origin.

Regardless of the unfortunate situation that you’re experiencing, our employment lawyer in Chicago is only a phone call away.


Some additional federal laws prohibit discrimination, including:

▪ The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination, requiring equal pay for equal work;

▪ The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;

▪ Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities;

▪ Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which prohibits discrimination against members of the military and protects their civilian employment while they are engaged in military service; and

▪ Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information about an applicant, employee, or former employee.

Discriminatory practices don’t just include hiring and firing. Other discriminatory practices include:

▪ Harassment. The most common type of harassment is sexual harassment, although harassment is prohibited on the basis of any protected category;

▪ Retaliation against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in an investigation, or opposing discriminatory practices;

▪ Employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities, or based on myths or assumptions about an individual’s genetic information; and

▪ Denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability.

In addition to the protections provided by Title VII and other federal laws, state laws such as the Illinois Human Rights Act, as well as local ordinances, provide similar protections. However, the Illinois Human Rights Act and other local ordinances also provide protections for individuals against discrimination based upon one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, arrest record, housing status, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Discrimination Law

Q: Why choose the Caffarelli team to help with this area of law?

A: Our employment lawyers in Chicago have extensive experience in litigating and negotiating workplace discrimination claims and have a proven successful track record. We understand that being the victim of workplace discrimination can be extremely disruptive to one’s life. We are committed to fighting for fair and just resolutions that allow our clients to properly close this difficult chapter in their lives and move forward as best they can.

Q: Are there any laws that protect against discriminating against sexual orientation?

A: There are both federal and state laws that protect employees against sexual orientation discrimination. The Illinois Human Rights Act has protected Illinois workers against sexual orientation discrimination since 2005, whereas the United States Supreme Court just affirmed as recently as June 15, 2020, that Title VII protects employees against sexual orientation discrimination.

Q: What is an undue hardship in regard to religious workplace accommodations?

A: Title VII requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practice unless making the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business. Undue hardship is considered anything that imposes more than a de minimis burden on the employer. A conceivable or hypothetical burden is usually insufficient; an employer must show an actual burden is imposed on the business.

Q: How can I recognize on-the-job discrimination?

A: While overt acts of discrimination in the workplace certainly occur, workplace discrimination often occurs in more subtle ways. Circumstantial evidence of discrimination includes, but is not limited to, suspicious timing of employment actions, ambiguous comments or behavior toward employees in a protected class, and patterns of behavior that show employees who do not belong to a protected class receive systematically better treatment than similarly-situated employees that do belong to a protected class.

Q: When does teasing cross the line to become a hostile work environment?

A: This is a very fact-dependent analysis. To state a Title VII hostile work environment claim, an employee must generally show that the unwelcome harassment was so severe or pervasive that it altered the conditions of employment such that an abusive relationship was created.

Q: Am I protected if I speak up about discrimination in the workplace?

A: Yes. The filing or participation in the filing of a charge or opposition to discrimination is considered protected activity under Title VII. Similarly, participation as a witness for a co-worker’s claim of discrimination under Title VII constitutes protected activity for purposes of a retaliation claim.

Contact your local employment lawyer in Chicago for a free consultation if you believe you are a victim of discrimination at work. We can help with cases of discrimination law, harassment law, employment law, and more.

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