How Are Pregnant Workers Protected From Wrongful Termination?

All residents of Illinois have a right to freedom from discrimination based on sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and conditions related to pregnancy. This protection extends to the workplace, so if you think you were wrongfully terminated because of your pregnancy, you have legal options outlined in this article. Also, our Chicago wrongful termination attorneys can help if you were fired because of your pregnancy.

Pregnancy Discrimination Overview In Illinois

Illinois is an at-will employment state, meaning your company can fire you without reason. However, your employer cannot fire you illegally for being a specific color, race, ethnicity, or for being pregnant. In addition, federal and state laws protect pregnant women from being terminated only because they are pregnant.

In Illinois, the Illinois Human Rights Act outlaws sex discrimination, which prohibits employers from firing pregnant people, giving birth recently, or having a related medical issue. Federal law only outlaws employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating based on pregnancy, but Illinois’ law applies to all employers in the state.

Under the Act in Illinois, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for you based on medical restrictions you have because you are pregnant. For example, pregnant women may need to use the restroom more often, so your employer should allow you to take extra breaks.

What Is Wrongful Termination In Illinois?

There are several types of wrongful termination in Illinois, from which state laws protect you. However, if you suspect you were wrongfully terminated, talk to an attorney immediately:

  • Discrimination: When someone is fired for being in a protected class, such as being pregnant, sex, gender, race, you can file a wrongful termination claim.
  • Retaliation: Your company cannot fire you for attending protests in your free time or for filing a workers’ comp claim. You also cannot be terminated if someone makes sexual advances on you at work.
  • Taking time off: If you take sick time, family leave time, or time off after having a baby, you cannot be terminated.

What Damages Are Available In A Pregnancy Discrimination Claim?

It is a serious matter if your employer terminates or discriminates against you for pregnancy. Contact a wrongful termination attorney in Chicago immediately if that happens to you.

The first step is to file a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). One of these agencies will attempt to resolve the matter between you and your employer.

However, Illinois law allows you to file a wrongful termination lawsuit to obtain damages. You must get a right-to-sue letter if you wish to sue your company before the state or federal government reviews your claim. If your claim is successful, you could be entitled to back pay, rehiring, and more.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination For Pregnancy?

To have a successful claim, you must prove that your pregnancy was why you were fired. Many subtle signs of discrimination could show that your employer wrongfully terminated you. If you notice any of the following signs in your situation, talk to an attorney today:

Your Company’s Reasons Are Not True

Suppose your company says it fired you because of subpar sales performance. However, if your attorney can prove that your sales did not drop, or you outperformed most of your colleagues, this reason looks suspicious. It could be they are hiding the true reason they terminated you.

Suspicious Timing

Did you have excellent employee reviews until the month they found out you were pregnant? Then, you did the same things at work, but your reviews were suddenly mediocre. The timing of the termination and employee reviews is suspicious and could be the basis of a wrongful termination lawsuit.

For example, there have been wrongful termination cases where a company fired a woman not long after she asked about the firm’s maternity leave policy. Some employers still do not want employees who need to take time off to have children. If this happened to you, it could be pregnancy and gender discrimination.

Worse Treatment Than Other Workers

Suppose there is a five-step disciplinary process before someone is fired at your company, and no one is ever let go without going through those steps. But you discovered you were fired without going through the disciplinary process and were the only pregnant one. This strongly implies that you have been discriminated against.

Supervisors Make Comments About Pregnant Workers

Many employers understand the law about discrimination and keep their beliefs hidden. But sometimes supervisors will say things that show they did not like that the employee was pregnant and took action against that employee. For example, just a comment like, ‘Pregnant women take too long to come back to work’ would be enough to constitute pregnancy discrimination.

How To File A Wrongful Termination Claim

As noted earlier, you should file a complaint with the EEOC if you suspect wrongful termination for pregnancy, and also contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Providing complaints to both agencies should ensure the matter is taken seriously.

Both agencies will research your claim and decide if acting is appropriate. If one or both agencies does not act, you can still file a wrongful termination lawsuit with the assistance of your lawyer. If you file a lawsuit and it is successful, you could be entitled to some or all of the following compensation:

  • Lost earnings from losing your position until you found a new one
  • Medical bills associated with treating mental and emotional distress because of wrongful termination
  • Costs related to looking for a new job
  • Legal fees and court costs
  • Punitive damages in some cases
  • Compensation for the pain and suffering you were caused because of the wrongful termination

The court also could require your employer to reinstate you in your previous position and order the company via injunction not to engage in this type of illegal behavior again. Talk to an attorney about your wrongful termination case to determine if there is a basis for a claim.

Contact Our Chicago Wrongful Termination Lawyers Today

Do you suspect you were terminated at work because of your pregnancy? That is illegal under state and federal law, so you should retain an attorney immediately. Our Chicago wrongful termination attorneys at North Suburban Legal Services can help, so please call (312) 909-6089.




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