Discriminatory Hiring/Promotion Claims


It happened to me: A Real Life Story


Under what law is discriminatory hiring and promotion regulated?


Employment discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited under Article I §§ 17-18 of the Illinois State Constitution. All actions are brought under the Illinois Human Rights Act 775 ILCS 5/1-101-102 (IHRA). The IHRA is your exclusive avenue for employment discrimination claims; in other words, if you have a claim for emotional distress which resulted from discrimination, the IHRA is the only state remedy.


I wasn't hired and I think it is because I am a woman, How do I prove it?


In order to prove your case you must show the following:
(1) You are a member of the protected class;
(2) You applied for and were qualified for the open position;
(3) You were rejected for the position despite your qualifications; and
(4) After you were rejected the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants of your qualifications


How do I prove that I am a member of a protected group?


Under Article 1 §§17-18 of the Bill of Rights of the Illinois State Constitution and the Human Rights Act, gender is a protected class.


Must I prove that I didn't get the job or promotion because of my sex and not my qualifications? If so, how?


If you have direct evidence of something discriminatory that your employer said (for example, a person on a hiring committee says "We need a man."), the employer will have to persuade the court that the same decision would have been made, regardless of the discriminatory evidence against them.


However, if you do not have such direct evidence (and most people do not), you must first prove what is called your "prima facie case," which is set out above.


After you have proven that you were qualified for the position, the employer will have the opportunity to present a non-discriminatory reason for either not hiring or not promoting you, such as saying that the person who was promoted had superior job performance.


After the defendant has put forward a non-discriminatory reason, you must prove that the reason they offered is false (what lawyers call "pretext"). Pretext can be shown by persuading the court that a discriminatory purpose is more likely than not what motivated the employer's decision. This could be shown by evidence such as a record of the employer's past practices. For example, you could show that your employer typically went through a certain series of procedures before making a promotion, but failed to do so in your case.


Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


You must file the complaint within 180 days of the alleged discrimination taking place - if you fail to file within 180 days, the statute of limitations will run and you will lose the right to make that claim.


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


Under the Human Rights Act an employer is someone who employs more than 15 persons. However, under the Act there are certain exceptions, where employers who employ fewer than 15 persons are covered. These exceptions apply to the state, municipalities, other government units (like school districts) and any entity that has a public contract (i.e. a contract with the state).



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