Although at-will employees may be fired without any cause, at-will employees may not be discriminated against. Specific legislation protects employees from being fired due to many reasons. Employees that suspect that they were fired because of discrimination should consult wrongful termination attorneys.
Types of Discrimination that Apply
Many types of discrimination are covered under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Some of the types included are:
- Age (40 and over)
Race discrimination has been illegal since the Civil War. Employees are entitled to the right to be free of racial harassment in the workplace. Title VII protects employees from any discrimination because of race, but it only applies to employers with fifteen or more employees.
Employers are expected to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious beliefs. An employee who requests a religious accommodation is also protected if the business engages in retaliation.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is a federal law that prohibits employers from illegally dismissing an employee because of their age (40 and over).
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. It is illegal to fire someone because she is pregnant. It is also illegal to refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant. Pregnancy should be treated as any other temporary disability.
If other employees are given light duty assignments temporarily, pregnant employees are also entitled to light duty. Employees may not be terminated because of FMLA leave or maternity leave. Women who return to work that are breastfeeding are also allowed to pump breastmilk for their infants in a private location.
Many federal laws protect employees from retaliation. Workers are protected when they report unlawful or potentially unlawful behavior. Employees may report safety violations without fear of being terminated. Employees are also protected from wrongful termination if they are participating in an investigation or lawsuit against the employer.
What to do if Termination Occurs
It is important for employees to attempt to resolve any workplace issues before filing a wrongful termination claim. Employees should also consult a wrongful termination attorney before they quit their job. At-will employees still have rights, and it is important to protect these rights from abuse by employers.