What You Need To Know About Workplace Gender Discrimination in Illinois

It is illegal for Illinois employers to discriminate against employees because of their gender. Here’s what you need to know about workplace gender discrimination in Illinois.

Federal and Illinois state laws prohibit workplace discrimination based on sex or gender identity. Employees can file claims against employers who violate their rights.

What is Workplace Gender Discrimination in Illinois?

Workplace discrimination is when an employer treats one or more employees differently because of legally protected characteristics. A protected class means employers cannot discriminate against anyone who belongs within the category or has a particular trait.

Federally protected classes include:

  • Race,
  • Color,
  • National origin,
  • Religion,
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions),
  • Gender identity,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Disability,
  • Age (40 and older),
  • Citizenship status, and
  • Genetic information.

In addition to the federally protected classes, Illinois also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Marital status,
  • Citizenship status,
  • Military and veteran status,
  • Unfavorable military discharge,
  • Arrest record,
  • Victims of domestic violence,
  • Status as being under an order of protection, and
  • Lack of a permanent mailing address or using the mailing address of a shelter or social service provider.

Workplace gender discrimination is when an employer discriminates against an employee because of their sex, gender identity, or pregnancy status.

Related: Taking Time Off Work in Illinois

Federal Workplace Gender Discrimination Laws

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on federally protected characteristics. Title VII offers employees and applicants protections against discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring and screening practices.

There are two pregnancy-related anti-discrimination federal laws: the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees, meaning the PDA protects all aspects of employment (hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, and benefits). However, the PDA only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Employees with a temporary or ongoing disability related to their pregnancy may receive some protections under the ADA. The ADA handles pregnancy discrimination claims on a case-by-case basis. The ADA applies to employers with more than 15 workers like the PDA.

Workplace Gender Discrimination Laws in Illinois

Illinois enforces federal anti-discrimination laws in Illinois workplaces with 15 or more employees.

The following are exceptions to the enforcement of those laws in Illinois:

  • Age discrimination laws apply to employers with 20 or more employees,
  • Citizenship status discrimination laws apply to employers with four or more employees, and
  • Equal pay laws for men and women apply to all employers.

Illinois also states laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on federal and state-protected characteristics.

IHRA applies to all Illinois employers with 15 or more employees. However, Illinois requires all employers with one or more employees to enforce and comply with IHRA’s disability discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment laws.

Related: At-Will Employment in Illinois

Filing a Discrimination Claim

Employees can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). The EEOC enforces federal laws, and the IDHR enforces state laws.

The IDHR and EEOC have a work-sharing agreement, meaning the agencies work together to investigate claims.

The EEOC asks employees to file claims through their public portal. Employees will receive a report with the investigator’s findings once the investigation is complete. The employee has 30 days from the day they receive the report to request a hearing and decisions from an administrative judge or receive a determination from the EEOC.

Employees can file a claim with IDHR electronically or mail the forms to the nearest IHDHR office. There are two IDHR offices in Illinois, Chicago, and Springfield offices. If the IDHR accepts the claim, they will send a charge to the employer.

The statute of limitations to file a workplace gender discrimination claim is 300 days under the IDHR and between 180-300 days for the EEOC.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Workplace Gender Discrimination Illinois, get your free consultation with one of our Employment Attorneys in Illinois today!