Employment Law FAQ’s

Questions and Answers on Workplace Discrimination

Eugene K. Hollander: Chicago, Illinois Employment Law Attorney

Q: I was just terminated from my job. Do I have a claim against my former employer?

A: Illinois is an employment-at-will state, meaning that an employer can generally hire or fire you for any reason or no reason at all. However, an employer may not discriminate against you in making the decision to fire, and must adhere to a contract if one exists.

Q: Under what circumstances can I bring a claim for discrimination against my former employer?

A: You must show that you are a member of a protected class. Generally, one can bring a discrimination claim if they can prove that they were discriminated against on the basis of age, gender, race, national origin, religion, disability, or handicap. Whether you have a good case depends upon a number of factors, including whether your boss made any discriminatory statements, how well you performed on the job, and whether you have a job action you can bring a claim over, such as: a demotion, being terminated, or being fired.

Q: I was injured on the job and filed a worker’s compensation case. I was fired shortly thereafter. What are my legal rights?

A: You may have a claim for retaliatory discharge. One of the key factors is how close in time the termination was to the time that you filed your worker’s compensation case.

Q: How much time do I have to pursue my race discrimination claim against my current or former employer?

A: That depends on where your employer is located, how many employees the employer has, and where you file your charge of discrimination. If you pursue your charge of discrimination before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, you must file your charge within 180 days from the time that the discrimination occurred; if you file your charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you have 300 days to file the charge of discrimination.

Q: I already filed a charge of discrimination, and the EEOC issued a right to sue letter. How much time do I have to file my lawsuit?

A: Once received, you must file your discrimination lawsuit within 90 days.

Q: My boss has made some lewd jokes, and has touched me inappropriately on a number of occasions. Do I have a sexual harassment case?

A: You may. It depends on a number of factors, including, what kind of conduct your boss engaged in and for how long it went on. The law generally requires that not only you find the conduct offensive, but that a reasonable person would as well.

Q: I am 60 years old and I was terminated from my job. A younger co-worker was not let go. Can I sue my former employer for age discrimination?

A: While the fact that a younger co-worker was retained warrants further inquiry, other important information that we would need to know is did your supervisor ever make any remarks about your age or retirement? Were you a good performer? Was the co-worker 10 years or more your junior? Did your co-worker perform the same job that you did? Did the younger co-worker perform better than you, or did he have any specials skills that you did not possess?

Q: If I was fired from my job, and I bring a lawsuit for discrimination, what kind of damages can I expect if I win?

A: That depends on what kind of case you file. Generally, for an age discrimination case, you can recover back pay, and in some instances front pay and liquidated damages. For most other types of discrimination cases like disability, gender and race cases, you can recover back pay, compensatory damages, and possibly punitive damages. Also, discrimination laws generally allow a successful employee to recover attorney’s fees.

Q: I was fired from my job but was given a severance package. What should I do?

A: You should have an attorney review the document before you sign it. If you have a discrimination or other employment claim, you may be able to negotiate for more compensation.

Trial lawyer Eugene Hollander has practiced for more than 20 years and has tried over 100 cases in state and federal courts. He currently heads his own law office in Chicago, Illinois, serving Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, Will, and McHenry counties. Our full service law firm represents plaintiffs in employment law, personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, as well as commercial litigation. Contact us online or call us today (312) 425-9100.