- Family Law & Divorce
- Child Related Issues
- School Law
- Sexual Harassment
- Criminal Law
- Employment Discrimination
What Is a “Protected Class” as It Relates to Employment Discrimination?
There are a number of state and federal laws that are intended to prohibit and police discrimination against individuals with certain, identifiable characteristics. Those who share these characteristics are considered to be part of a “protected class” of people. Employment discrimination occurs when an employer treats a member of a protected class differently from their peers.
Protected classes have been recognized by a variety of federal laws, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, among many others. At the state level, the Illinois Human Rights Act established protections for additional identifiable characteristics.
According to these laws, it is illegal and a violation of the person’s rights for an employer to make adverse employment-related decisions on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived:
- National origin or place of birth;
- Sex or gender identity;
- Sexual orientation;
- Marital, pregnancy, or family status;
- Order of protection status;
- Veteran status, including unfavorable discharge; or
- Citizenship status.
Adverse employment decisions include refusing to hire, segregating, compensating, promoting, disciplining, or otherwise affecting the terms and conditions of a person’s employment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Human Rights Commission are responsible for ensuring that all people enjoy the benefits of equal opportunity laws. At MKFM Law, we are committed to helping those who have experienced discrimination of any kind in the workplace. If you have been discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic, contact our office so our experienced team can help you take action. Call 630-665-7300 to discuss your case and to explore your available options. Our firm serves clients in DuPage County, Kane County, and throughout Northern Illinois.
How Do I Know If I Am a Victim of Workplace Retaliation?
Workplace retaliation refers to negative actions taken by an employer against an employee who reports or makes a complaint about sexual harassment, discrimination, or other violations of the law. If you were demoted or fired after reporting a problem to your employer, an experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have been a victim of retaliation.
At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we understand that Illinois is an “at-will employment” state which means that employees can be fired for any lawful reason or for no reason at all. There are, however, certain situations in which an employer cannot fire you or otherwise take negative action against you. One of these situations is when you have engaged in a “protected activity.”
Under Illinois and federal labor laws, protected activities include:
- Filing a report or complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IHDR);
- Discussing concerns with a manager or supervisor about workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment;
- Participating in an investigation of alleged harassment or discrimination;
- Refusing to follow instructions that would result in discrimination; or
- Requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability or religious practice.
It is important to understand that the law offers the most protection to employees who make specific complaints, reports, or requests. This means that if sexual harassment is an issue in your workplace, you should specify in your complaint that you are being sexually harassed.
Termination of employment is just one way in which an employer could retaliate against an employee. Other forms of possible retaliation include formal or informal reprimands, artificially lowered performance evaluations, transfers to a less desirable position, increased scrutiny or expectations, and threatened or actual reports to authorities, such as in regard to an employee’s immigration status.
If you have additional questions about identifying and addressing issues of workplace retaliation, contact our office. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation. MKFM Law serves clients in Wheaton, St. Charles, Oak Brook, Naperville, Geneva and throughout DuPage County and Kane County.
Can I Represent Myself in My Illinois Divorce?
If you are considering divorce or have been recently served with divorce papers, you may be asking yourself, “Can I represent myself in my divorce?” The answer to this question is yes. Regardless of the legal proceeding, you always have the right to represent yourself. However, the more important question is, “Should I represent myself in my divorce?”
Since the process of divorce is complex, both legally and emotionally, seeking legal representation for your divorce case can help you protect your rights and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. You may have your own set of ideas about how the division of your marital assets, the allocation of parenting time, and other aspects of your divorce should be handled. Unfortunately, what you believe is most fair may be contrary to what Illinois divorce laws state.
To avoid becoming confused or frustrated by how a judge may rule in your divorce case, and to prevent errors that could costs you thousands of dollars more than you would have paid otherwise, you should consult with a skilled, experienced divorce lawyer. If you elect to represent yourself initially and later retain an attorney, your lawyer may spend a significant amount of time attempting to undo mistakes that have already been made. Sometimes, mistakes made during self-representation cannot be fixed. Therefore, it is in your best interest to receive legal counsel at the very beginning stages of your divorce.
The decisions made during divorce will determine what happens with the things that are most important to you: your home, your retirement, your life savings, and your children. Rather than trying to tackle your divorce on your own, you should contact an experienced attorney at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC. We have been assisting clients from DuPage, Kane, and Kendall Counties for decades, and we look forward to helping you reach a favorable outcome to your situation. Call us at 630-665-7300 or contact us online today.
Can I Plead the Fifth in My Illinois Divorce?
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution is known as the self-incrimination clause and states “No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” When someone says, “I plead the Fifth,” they cannot be required to answer any questions or state any information that may incriminate them.
Most Americans are aware that they have the right to refuse to answer questions about their own criminal conduct. However, many do not realize that Fifth Amendment protections are limited in civil cases related to divorce.
Some people may wish to plead the Fifth because they are hiding assets, having an affair, or engaging in another activity they do not want to disclose. They may prefer to remain silent rather than lie in court or answer questions that reveal secrets to their spouse.
Unlike in a criminal court case, if you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights in a civil court case, a judge can hold your refusal to answer against you. Therefore, if you are involved in a divorce or another civil case and are concerned that you may be asked to admit criminal conduct, it is in your best interest to reach out to an experienced divorce attorney.
Prior to your court date, your attorney will inform you of what types of questions to expect and how to handle the questions that may make you feel uncomfortable. In most cases, you will need to respond to all questions, unless your attorney tells you otherwise. Aside from preparing you to answer difficult questions, your attorney will object to inappropriate questions and help you avoid answering questions that may hurt you case.
If you are going through a divorce proceeding, you should call the highly skilled divorce attorneys at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC at 630-665-7300. For decades, we have been assisting clients from DuPage, Kane, and Kendall Counties, and can help you understand how the Fifth Amendment and the Illinois divorce statutes apply to your case.
Can Employers Ask About Expunged or Sealed Criminal Records?
Often times, people choose to expunge or seal their criminal records after they have dealt with consequences such as fines, jail time, and probation. By expunging or sealing your record, you can increase your chances of landing a job, attending college, and/or qualifying for financial aid. Expunging or sealing your record is a step towards restoring your reputation and moving on with your life.
If you have had a criminal offense expunged or sealed, you may be wondering whether you have to inform a potential employer. The good news is that, with the exception of certain state and government agencies, you do not have to disclose your record, because employers cannot consider an expunged or sealed offense when determining whether to hire you.
In fact, under Illinois law, an employment application must contain a specific warning which states that the person applying has no obligation to disclose a sealed or expunged record. You should be cautious, however, because a new law which gave certain employers the right to omit the warning from their employment applications and place it on their website instead became effective January 1, 2018.
A sealed or expunged record can give you a fresh start when searching for employment. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we will determine whether you can expunge or seal your record and increase your chances of securing a job. Contact us today at 630-665-7300 for a free consultation.