A variety of laws - local, state and federal - protect a person from gender/sex discrimination in the workplace.
At the federal level Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is intented to prevent or at least remedy gender discrimination. Title VII covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
As summarized by the EEOC, Title VII is inteded to protect workers in the following manner:
It is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of his/her sex in regard to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment. Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals on the basis of sex. Title VII prohibits both intentional discrimination and neutral job policies that disproportionately exclude individuals on the basis of sex and that are not job related.
Title VII's prohibitions against sex-based discrimination also cover:
- Sexual Harassment
This includes practices ranging from direct requests for sexual favors to workplace conditions that create a hostile environment for persons of either gender, including same sex harassment.
- Pregnancy Based Discrimination
Title VII was amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. Title VII also prohibits compensation discrimination on the basis of sex. Unlike the Equal Pay Act, however, Title VII does not require that the claimant's job be substantially equal to that of a higher paid person of the opposite sex or require the claimant to work in the same establishment.
It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on sex or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII
- Sexual Harassment
It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission handles claims on the federal level. They enforce federal anti-discrimination laws including laws against sexual harassment. The claim must be filed within 300 days of the occurence.
The EEOC can be contacted at:
U.S. Equal Employment Oppor. Comm'n Chicago District Office
500 W. Madison,
Chicago, IL 60611-2511
(312) 353-2713; 2714
(312) 353-2421 (TDD)
(312) 353-7355 (Fax)
The State of Illinois uses both the Illinois Department of Human Rights and Illinois Human Rights Commission to handle claims under the Illnois Human Rights Act. Claims must be filed within 180 days of the occurence.
A charge is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and an agent is assigned to investigate the claim. If the claim is found to have merit a charge is filed with the Illinois Human Rights Commission. An individual has a right to file a charge with the Illinois Human Rights Commission even if the IDHR does not find their claim to have merit.
The Human Rights Commission assigns an administrative judge to the case and a public hearing is held to determine the merits of the claim.
The Illinois Department of Human Rights can be contacted at:
Illinois Department of Human Rights
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 263-1579 (TDD)
(312) 814-1541 (Fax)
If you live in Cook County you can file a charge with the Cook County Commission on Human Rights. The Commission on Human Rights is charged with applying the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance.
The Commission on Human Rights can be contacted at:
Cook County Commission on Human Rights
69 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-1101 (TDD)
(312) 603-9988 (FAX)
The city of Chicago Commission on Human Relations hears complaints filed by plaintiffs and can award monetary damages to the successful plaintiff.
Filing a charge with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations is free and no lawyer is required to pursue a case. Though it is generally advisable to hire a lawyer to represent you as the defendant usually will and the legal arguments will be more familiar to a lawyer.
The Commission on Human Relations can be contacted at:
Chicago Commission on Human Relations
740 N. Sedgwick,
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 744-1088 (TDD)
(312) 744-1081 (FAX)