Are Single Mothers Protected From Workplace Discrimination in Illinois?

Many laws in the US and Illinois protect us from workplace discrimination. However, it is still common for some employers to discriminate against single mothers, which is illegal. If you are a single mother and think you were discriminated against at work, you should have your case reviewed by a Chicago sex discrimination lawyer today.

Why Does A Company Discriminate Against A Single Mother?

Single mothers have to work hard to provide for themselves and their families. So, why should employers give them a hard time or discriminate against them? Unfortunately, an employer could see a single mother as a burden and someone not entirely dedicated to their job. Or, the firm may dislike that she has to leave work early to care for the children after school. Whatever the reasons the employer discriminates against a single mother, it is illegal at the state and federal levels.

Common Discrimination Examples Against Single Mothers

Workplace discrimination against a single mother can come in many forms. Some scenarios may be blatant, while others could be subtle:

  • You were fired from a job during maternity leave or for taking medical leave
  • Your employer does not offer sufficient flexibility to those who have children
  • You did not get a promotion because you are too busy with your children
  • Your employer lied about your performance to have an excuse to dismiss you

Discriminating Against Single Parents Is Against Federal Law

Being a single parent is not a protected class according to federal law. However, your company cannot ask if you are married when hiring you. Also, they cannot ask how many children you have or if you plan to have any.

Filing a lawsuit for workplace or sex discrimination for alleged mistreatment can be challenging. After all, many employers will not advertise that they are treating you differently than your married co-workers. However, there are ways to see signs of possible discrimination.

For example, suppose your manager makes a negative comment that you leave early to care for your child, even though you come in 30 minutes earlier in the morning. Or, you may hear negative feedback that you are not as attractive after pregnancy. The latter example could be a sexual harassment case, too.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 offers several protections to pregnant women that can extend to single mothers. The law expanded discrimination safeguards based on sex to include pregnancy-related issues. Therefore, you cannot be fired because you have children, and the employer has to offer reasonable accommodations when you are pregnant.

Discrimination Is Against Illinois State Law

The Illinois Human Rights Act makes it against the law for a company to discriminate against you based on many protected classes, including sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. You also cannot be discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, and marital status. The law also makes it illegal to aid and abet discrimination, which allows legal action against any party who caused the alleged discrimination to occur.

What To Do If You Are Discriminated Against At Work

If you believe you were discriminated against because you are a single mother or for any reason, there are steps you can take to protect your rights. They are:

  • Write down the incident: Include precisely what happened, when, where, and who was involved. Also, write down who witnessed the alleged discrimination and keep a copy of this document in a secure place.
  • Review your employer’s policy about how to file discrimination complaints. Many employers have procedures and points of contact to file complaints. First, review the company handbook or ask an HR employee or supervisor about where to file.
  • If you can, talk about the alleged discriminatory incident with your manager or someone in the HR department. Explain what happened and ask how to file a complaint or obtain a satisfactory outcome.
  • File a complaint with your employer: This is usually done through the HR department, but if you have a union, you can do so through its grievance process.
  • File a complaint with the EEOC: You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to understand your legal rights before filing the complaint. You usually need to file the complaint within 180 days of when it occurred. You also can call the Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Helpline at (877) 236-7703.
  • Consider filing a discrimination lawsuit: Talk to your sex discrimination lawyer about filing a lawsuit if other methods have not resolved the issue.

What Happens After Filing An EEOC Complaint?

After the charge is filed with the EEOC, the agency will give you a copy of the complaint, which includes a charge number. Within 10 days, the agency will mail your company a notice and copy of the complaint. At that time, the EEOC can do one of the following:

  • Ask you and the company to participate in a mediation program.
  • Ask your company to give a written response to the complaint and answer questions related to the charge. At that time, the complaint will be assigned to an investigator.
  • Dismiss the claim if the matter was not filed on time or the EEOC lacks jurisdiction.

If the EEOC decides to investigate the case, it may interview witnesses and collect evidence. After the investigation is over, the agency will inform you and your company of the result. If the EEOC says that discrimination did not happen, they will send you a ‘right to sue’ letter, which allows you to file a lawsuit.

If the agency decides that discrimination did happen, they will attempt to settle with your company. If a settlement is not possible, the case will be referred to the agency’s legal staff, who will decide whether the EEOC will file suit. The agency will provide you with a ‘right to sue’ letter if they do not.

Contact Our Chicago Sex Discrimination Lawyer

Sadly, workplace and sex discrimination still happen in many workplaces in Illinois. Be sure that you know your legal rights so you can act if you are discriminated against. Contact our Chicago sex discrimination lawyers at North Suburban Legal Services. We can review your discrimination case and may assist with financial recovery. To schedule a consultation, please call us today at (312) 909-6089.




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