Discriminatory Firing Claims


It happened to me:
A Real Life Story



I think I was fired because I'm a woman, how do I prove it?


To show that you were fired because of your sex you must prove the following four factors:
(1) You are a member of the protected class (meaning you are a woman);(2) You were performing your job satisfactorily;
(3) You were fired despite the adequacy of your job performance; and
(4) Similarly situated employees who were not members of the protected group were not fired.

For example, if you are fired for leaving early and a male colleague who also left early is not fired than you could prove this factor.

If you are able to prove all four of the factors above then your employer must then show that you were fired for a legitimate non-discriminatory reason that was not pre-textual. Pre-text is a false reason given by the employer for the action to cover up the real discriminatory reason for the action. If your employer puts forward a legitimate non-discriminatory reason then you must show that their reason is pre-textual. If you are able to do this then you will have a valid claim in court and a chance of succeeding on your case.



How do I prove that I belong to a protected group?


As a woman you are automatically a member of a protected group under the Illinois Human Rights Statute.



How do I prove that I performed at an acceptable level?


The court will look at various things to determine whether your job performance was acceptable among them are you past work evaluations, any increases in pay you have received, and your educational, knowledge and training level. If you plan on bringing a claim you should keep a record of the above mentioned materials as well as a record of the date and details of anything you believe to be discriminatory behavior.



How do I show my employer did not discharge a similarly situated employee?


You must show that a similarly situated employee (a male) engaged in the same or similar behavior and was not subject to adverse action. For example, the male employee left work early and was subject to a performance review and a second chance while you left early and were fired.



What if I resigned or quit my job?


You might have a claim for constructive discharge. Constructive discharge occurs when employer deliberately makes working conditions so intolerable as to force employee's involuntary resignation.



How do I prove constructive discharge?


Constructive discharge is illegal under the Illinois Human Rights Act. To prove it, the court must be satisfied that a reasonable employee in your employment situation would have felt forced to quit work. This means that common occurrences at work, such as stares and occasional off-color remarks, probably won't help your claim because reasonable employees are expected to put up with this kind of behavior. You will have to show that your work environment went beyond everyday annoyances.



Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


Yes. You must file within 180 days. Employer must answer the allegations within 60 days or risk a default judgment.



What options do I have if I my employer has fewer than 15 employees?


The Illinois Human Rights Act generally does not apply to employers with less than 15 employees.The exceptions are the State of Illinois, other Illinois government agencies, any company with a public contract, apprenticeships, and training committees which have no requirement about the number of employees. Certain employers such as religious corporations, associations, non-profits, and educational institutions are excepted.



If I prove my wrongful termination claim, what kind of remedies am I entitled to?


There are many options depending on your specific situations. Among the possible remedies are getting your job back or stop a transfer, receive back pay (money your employer owes you from not paying you what it should have) and any lost benefits, seniority, attorney and expert witness costs in addition to possible emotional damages. The employer will also pay civil penalties between $10,000 to $50,000 and be made to submit reports detailing how it is complying. Awards of interest on your actual damages from the date of the civil rights violation is also recoverable.


If, in the process of filing your complaint, you received an offer in good faith from the employer to return to the same job with your position restored and resolving your complaint, you should entertain the thought seriously. Illinois law requires employees to reduce losses. If you fail to do so, you could forfeit backpay.



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