Pregnancy is often a joyful time in your life because you’re welcoming a new addition into the world. Unfortunately, employers may not want a pregnant employee working for them. In fact, they may fire you because you are pregnant. This is called pregnancy discrimination in Illinois.
What is Pregnancy Discrimination in Illinois?
Illinois is an at-will state. This means your employer can fire you for no reason. Although your employer can fire you for no reason, it can’t fire you for an illegal reason. This means it can’t fire you for reasons that are considered illegal. If your employer fires you for an illegal reason, it is called wrongful termination.
There are specific types of wrongful termination such as discrimination, age, race, and sexual orientation. Pregnancy discrimination is another type of wrongful discrimination. Federal and state laws protect women who are pregnant from being fired solely because they are pregnant.
The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits sex discrimination. This prohibits you from being fired because you are pregnant, just gave birth or a related medical condition. Federal law only bans employers with more than 15 workers from pregnancy discrimination. However, the state’s Human Rights Act applies to all employers in Illinois.
Your Rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act
As an employee who is pregnant, the Act requires you to have certain rights during this time. Your employer must make reasonable accommodations for you based on any medical restriction you have because of your pregnancy, related medical condition or childbirth. For example, possible accommodations include taking more restroom breaks or light duty.
Damages Available Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination in Illinois
Pregnancy discrimination in Illinois is serious. You can’t be fired or discriminated against because you are pregnant. If this occurs, contact a discrimination attorney in Illinois.
The first step is to file charges of discrimination with a federal or state government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). The government agency may try to resolve the situation between you and your employer.
The state allows you to file a lawsuit to ask for damages. If you want to sue your employer before the government agency looks at your claim, you must request the agency provide you with a right-to-sue letter. Damages vary from getting your job back to back pay and other compensation.