Sex Discrimination & Harassment

Title VII prohibits employers from subjecting employees to an adverse employment action on the basis of sex. Examples of adverse employment actions include constructive discharge, termination, refusal to hire, demotion, discrimination or harassment, and exposure to a hostile work environment. Employers are further prohibited under Title VII from taking part in retaliatory practices, should they oppose employment practices made unlawful by Title VII or participate in any way in a Title VII proceeding.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) is an amendment to Title VII. The PDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or who are affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities and limitations.

As federal law, Title VII and the PDA govern Illinois employers; both apply to employers who have at least fifteen employees working each day for the twenty weeks preceding the filing of the civil claim. Both apply to all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions.

In order to bring a civil claim under Title VII or the PDA, an individual must first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). From the date of the adverse action, employees typically have 300 days to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

Plaintiffs successful in bringing suit under Title VII may be entitled to back pay, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. In cases where the employer acted intentionally, with malice, or with reckless disregard, a successful plaintiff may also be awarded punitive damages. Under Title VII, both compensatory and punitive damages are statutorily capped based on the number of individuals employed by the employer. For employers with 15-100 employees, a plaintiff may be awarded no more than $50,000 in compensatory damages and no more than $50,000 in punitive damages for willful violations. For employees with 101-200 employees, the cap for each is $100,000. For employers with 201-500 employees, the cap is $200,000. For all other employers, the cap is $300,000 for each category of damages.

Our Employment Law Services

Our attorneys are experienced in gender discrimination and harassment law, and have successfully represented numerous clients in negotiation, administrative agency charges, and litigation. If you have questions about your rights to a workplace free of gender discrimination and harassment, or feel that your employer has violated Title VII or the PDA, contact Siegel & Dolan to speak to a Chicago employment lawyer.

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