Through my years as an employment law attorney, a significant amount of my practice has involved representing victims of sex discrimination. Many women still hit a glass ceiling and are subjected to unequal terms and conditions of employment. For instance, employers rarely refer to a male employee as “too outspoken” or “aggressive”, but these terms are still used on a frequent basis to describe “problem” female employees. Likewise, employers rarely refer to a male employee’s “family” commitments when making promotion decisions, yet a female employee’s status as a parent often surfaces as a reason why a worthy female employee is denied a job promotion that involves travel and/or long hours. While I respect a woman’s decision not to take a job because of the travel and/or long hours, the decision should be hers, not the employers. Privacy and confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements prohibit me from identifying cases, named parties, and the existence and terms of settlement agreements. However, if you are a victim of sex discrimination, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and to defeat attempts to minimize the impact of sex discrimination in employment decisions.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) and various local ordinances prohibit employment discrimination against an employee or job applicant based on sex. Under these laws, it is illegal for an employer to make employment decisions regarding hiring, promotion, demotion, termination, compensation, job training or other terms and conditions of employment on the basis of your sex. Employment decisions based on sexual stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits or your performance on the basis of sex are also prohibited. These laws also prohibit employers from creating a hostile work environment based upon your sex (“sexual harassment”). Please refer to the section on sexual harassment for a fuller description of sexual harassment laws.
The same laws that protect you against sex discrimination also protect you from retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination or participating in an investigation of sex discrimination. As an employee, you have a legal right to complain about sex discrimination in the workplace. If you exercise your legal right to complain, it is illegal for your employer to “retaliate” against you by firing you, harassing you, stripping you of your job responsibilities, refusing to give you deserved raises, issuing unwarranted discipline, etc.
Title VII and the IHRA with respect to sex discrimination applies to employers with at least 15 employees. However, the IHRA applies to employers with at least 1 employee with respect to sexual harassment.