Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), an employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise retaliate against any applicant or employee because he or she filed a charge of discrimination, because he or she complained to their employer about discrimination on the job, or because he or she participated in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit). These actions constitute protected activity and employers are forbidden from taking adverse action against an employee for opposing discriminatory conduct or participating in an employment discrimination proceeding.
Title VII applies to employers (including employment agencies and unions) with 15 or more employees, and to federal, state, and local governments. Employees who are victims of workplace retaliation under Title VII may be entitled to recover compensatory and punitive damages as well as back pay, reinstatement or front pay, and attorneys’ fees and costs. Notably, Title VII does place caps on the amount of compensatory and punitive damages for which an employer may be liable. The caps are based on the size of the employer’s workforce:
15 - 100 employees
101 - 200 employees
201 - 500 employees
501 or more employees
In contrast to Title VII, the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) does not place caps on the amount of damages that are recoverable under the Act. In addition, the IHRA’s anti-retaliation provision applies to all Illinois employers with more than one (1) employee.
If you believe that you have been the victim of workplace retaliation, you must timely a Charge of Discrimination within time limits before filing a civil lawsuit. We encourage you to contact our Chicago workplace discrimination attorneys to set up a free consultation in time to learn about your rights and options under the law.
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