The Chicago Employment Law Blog

EEOC: Top Five Discrimination Claims in Illinois

Thanks to this handy searchable tool, provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we can now tell how many employment claims are filed in each state, including a breakdown by type. Illinois, though only making up an estimated 4.13% of the 2011 population, made up about 6.1% of the EEOC claims.

There were other interesting trends as well. From 2009 to 2010, the claims dipped by about 500, or by 0.08% of total U.S. claims. But in 2011, the numbers rose by about 800 claims, putting Illinois back at 6.1%.

In addition to overall discrimination claims, the data breaks down to types of claims. Out of the EEOC provided categories, these are the five most popular claims for 2011. Because some litigants claim multiple forms of discrimination, there may be people who are in multiple categories.

Age - 37.4%

Age discrimination showed the most interesting trends out of all of the categories. After remaining steady at 24.6 and 23.4% of the state claims, it skyrocketed by 1,044 claims to 37.4% of Illinois claims and 9.7% of the entire nation's age claims. Does this have to do with baby boomers inching toward retirement age?

Age discrimination often involves forced retirement due to age or outright termination. It is also often manifested in hiring and promotion decisions. The most applicable law is Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, which protects those who are at least 40 years old.

In late 2011, the Diocese of Joliet was sued by a former teacher, who alleged that she was fired due to her age.

Race - 32.7%

Discrimination based on race covers everything from blatant discrimination against someone due to their race or ethnicity, to decisions that have no apparent racial component, yet have a "disparate impact" on certain racial groups.

We recently covered a lawsuit against United Continental Airlines , which is based here in Chicago. The airline was sued because even though a few minorities were promoted to give the appearance of diversity, they were not included in social events where company policies and advancement opportunities were discussed.

Retaliation (All forms) - 32.0%

Your employee just sued you for discrimination. You can't work together anymore, right? Wrong. Retaliation is any punishment , such as firing the employee, giving them negative evaluations, or reducing their pay, in response to a complaint about harassment or discrimination. Those who participate in the investigation, such as witnesses, are protected as well.

A recent example of retaliation is the case against Cognis Corp. In their infinite wisdom, they decided to try to force their employees to sign a waiver of the right to sue over any discrimination, past, present, or future. When one of their employees refused to sign the waiver, they fired him. The case was so obvious that Cognis had the case decided against them without even being allowed a trial .

Sex - 22.5%

Everyone knows about gender or sex discrimination. It involves providing favorable or unfavorable treatment in regards to hiring, pay, promotions, or other work-related decisions to someone based on their biological sex or gender .

One example of a sex discrimination lawsuit is the class action lawsuit against Ruth's Chris steakhouse. The female employees allege that male employees got favorable treatment in promotions and pay. There were also allegations of continuous and widespread sexual harassment.

Disability - 22.0%

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees that are disabled, yet still able to perform the essential functions of the job.

The University of Chicago Medical Center is under investigation by the EEOC for failure to provide adequate medical leave. Six former employees allege that they were not allowed 12 weeks leave under the FMLA. Even if they had been, the ADA might require even more .

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