CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE
"Civil Rights" in terms of employment and the workplace generally refers to variety of causes of action which are designed to protect members of a protected class from being unjustly discriminated against. Such protected classes include, but are not limited to, race, gender/sex, nationality, disability, age, familial status, religion, and in many jurisdictions, sexual preference. It should be noted that the phrase "protected class" does not refer to only minority classes, as there have been cases wherein a claim of reverse racism is made when a male Caucasian has sued for discrimination based on his being Caucasian or male.
A few of the more common federal civil rights laws, whether they came from Abe Lincoln, John F, Kennedy, or George W. Bush include the Civil Rights Act of 1964; as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and/or the Americans With Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 and also the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the civil Rights Act of 1871-- which protect the rights of both private and public employees to be free from workplace discrimination in the United States. However, the above list is by no means exclusive.
Also included under the umbrella of "Civil Rights" actions are those for retaliation. Retaliation most often occurs as form of back lash from the accused toward the victim. It is not necessary to be the victim of discrimination to have a cause of action for retaliation. Any employee who is made to suffer in the terms and conditions of his or her employment as a result of complaining about what he or she perceives to be unlawful treatment against any employee may have a cause of action for retaliation.
Most civil rights statutes protect individuals who merely stand up for the victim of discrimination when, as a result of doing so, such individual is terminated, demoted, or are made to suffer in some other way in 'the terms or condition of his or her employment.' Such a person may have a cause of action for unlawful retaliation. There are also statutes such as the Illinois Whistle Blower Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act in Illinois which protect an employee from retaliation as a result of reporting unlawful behavior in the workplace to the relevant authorities, and/or behavior that is in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. There is also a common law cause of action known as "retaliatory discharge." A cause of action may be stated under the latter theory if one is terminated for reporting illicit activities when such activities are deemed to be against a firmly rooted Illinois public policy. The list violations that qualify as being against public policy is not set in stone and still remains the subject of much litigation, however, the two that are without question are the right to file for worker's compensation and to report criminal actions of the employer to the authorities. A common law cause of Retaliatory Discharge may be stated for violations of the latter two public policies in Illinois.
It is important for a person to contact an attorney experienced in civil rights matters before taking any legal action, and timing is always of the essence.
Ryan Scott Nalley concentrates his practice in representing employees whose civil rights have been violated in the workplace. If you feel that your civil rights have been violated, feel to call The Law Office of Ryan Scott Nalley for a free phone consultation.