Since the State of Illinois amended the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) to prohibit employment discrimination against employees based upon sexual orientation, a significant amount of my practice has involved representing gay, lesbian and bisexual clients. I remain outraged that the federal government refuses to enact legislation to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace and believe that sexual orientation discrimination remains a troubling, wide spread and accepted practice in the workplace. I admire the courage of my gay, lesbian and bi-sexual clients who have stood up for their rights in the workplace and I will continue to support all efforts to make sexual orientation discrimination illegal under federal law. 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 sexual orientation discrimination, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and to educate the workforce against one of the remaining vestiges of “accepted” discrimination in the workplace.
The IHRA and various local ordinances prohibit employment discrimination against an employee or job applicant based on sexual orientation. “Sexual orientation” is defined by the IHRA as “actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity, whether or not traditionally associated with the person’s designated sex at birth.” Under the IHRA, 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 sexual orientation.
The IHRA also protects you from retaliation for complaining about sexual orientation discrimination or participating in an investigation of sexual orientation discrimination. As an employee, you have a legal right to complain about sexual orientation 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 responsibilities, refusing to give you deserved raises, issuing unwarranted discipline, etc.
The IHRA with respect to sexual orientation discrimination applies to employers with at least 15 employees.