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Can a Job Rejection Be Discrimination?

Published: Jun 30, 2017 in Employment Law

Few things are as distressing as getting turned down when you apply for a job–especially if the basis for your rejection was unfair. You may think that you just need to keep looking for a job, but in some cases, you may be able to bring legal action against the employer that rejected you. However, keep in mind that the road to recovering damages in employment discrimination cases is not easy. To maximize your chances of getting the compensation you deserve, you should enlist a highly-skilled and experienced Belleville discrimination lawyer.

At Cates Mahoney, LLC we will review the circumstances under which you were denied a job offer and determine whether you may be entitled to damages. We will submit your claim to the appropriate administrative agency and advocate forcefully on your behalf until justice is done. If necessary, we stand ready to litigate your case in court.

To find out if your job rejection might qualify for an employment discrimination claim, call us today at (618) 767-6293 for a free and confidential consultation.

Your Job Application Rejection May Have Been Illegal

The hiring process is heavily regulated by both state and federal law. If an employer rejected your application in violation of one of these laws, you may be entitled to compensation. These various laws do not apply to all employers, however. For example, the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) as it relates to discrimination only applies to employers that have 15 or more employees in the state.

Generally, an employer may not reject you on the basis of–or in some cases even ask you about–any of the following factors unless it directly relates to your ability to meet the requirements of the position:

  • Disability–An employer may only reject you based on your disability if your disability would keep you from performing essential job functions, and it is not possible to reasonably accommodate you. For example, if you are in a wheelchair, you may rightfully be denied a position as an emergency responder or a laborer in a warehouse. For an office job on the other hand, the employer may not reject you just because there is no access ramp–the employer must reasonably accommodate you by installing an access ramp.
  • Sex–You may not be denied employment because of your sex or gender. Another classic example of sex discrimination in the hiring process is when the interviewer makes a job offer conditional on a sexual favor, or even a date. If an interviewer makes inappropriate advances or remarks that you reject, and then fails to hire as a result, you may have an employment discrimination claim.
  • Age–If you are an older applicant, you may be able to claim that you were denied the position because of your age. Did they hire someone younger than you who was less qualified? Do the employer’s recruiting efforts only focus on young people? For some positions, however, employers may be able to discriminate based on age–if they can show a legitimate reason.
  • Military status–An employer may not discriminate against you because of your veteran status during the job application process. In fact, they must make a reasonable effort to accommodate you and to give you a chance of gaining employment. Alternatively, you may not be denied employment based on a less than honorable discharge from the armed forces.
  • National Origin–If there is evidence that you were rejected from a position because of your national origin, you may have a viable discrimination claim. Employers are permitted to hire only citizens or persons legally entitled to work in the US, but they may only request such information after they’ve made you an offer.
  • Language use–You may not be denied employment based on your use of language in situations that are not related to your job functions. For example, if you are a native Spanish speaker, you are entitled to speak Spanish with your co-workers during breaks.
  • Sexual orientation–If the employer asked or commented about your sexual orientation during the hiring process and then rejected your application for a position that you were qualified for, you probably have an employment discrimination case.
  • Credit history–The Illinois Employee Credit Privacy Act prohibits employers from asking about your credit history, obtaining your credit report from a consumer reporting agency, or
    refusing to hire you based on your credit history. This is only legal in limited situations, such as when the position involves unsupervised access to inventory or assets worth $2,500 or more.
  • Religion–One of the pillars of American society is the free exercise of religion–both in private and in public places such as the workplace. An employer must make a reasonable effort to accommodate the requirements of your religion, such as providing you with a place to pray if you are Muslim. And of course, any evidence that you were denied a position because of your religion may be grounds for legal action.
  • Race or ethnic background–Your race–whether actual or perceived–is almost never a valid reason for denying you a position. Perhaps the only conceivable situation where an employer may select individuals based on race is in the entertainment industry, where certain roles call for individuals with a specific appearance.
  • Criminal History–It’s illegal for an employer with 15 or more employees or an employment agency to ask about your arrest record in a job application. It’s also unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire you based on your arrest record unless federal or state law requires it. Any record of a criminal conviction; however, may be used against you.
  • Marital status or pregnancy–An employer may not ask you about your marital status or whether you are pregnant during a job interview. If you believe you have been denied a position because of your marital status or because you are pregnant, you may have an employment discrimination claim.
  • Citizenship–It’s against Illinois human rights law to require a job applicant to submit I-9 documentation in situations that aren’t mandated by federal law. In general, the employer can only request to confirm your citizenship after they’ve given you an offer–not before.

How Does the Compensation Process Work?

For your discrimination case to succeed, you and you lawyer must present evidence that demonstrates that:

  • You are a member of a “protected class,” meaning you belong to a group that is offered legal protection under either state or federal law
  • You were qualified for the position
  • You got turned away
  • Someone else was hired in your place

Your Belleville employment discrimination lawyer can help you file your claim with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) or its federal equivalent, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Depending on the specific facts of your case, and what laws the employer may have violated, it may be better to choose to file with one agency over another. If you file with the IDHR, you will have an earlier deadline, which lapses 180 days after the date of the alleged discrimination. The EEOC allows complaints to be filed up to 300 days after the alleged discrimination for violations that occur in Illinois.

If you’re ready to stand up for your rights and get compensation for the way the employer treated you, it’s time to call Cates Mahoney, LLC. We’ve built our reputation on helping people just like you get back on their feet when they’ve been wronged by a current or prospective employer.

To find out more about how we can help, call us today at (618) 767-6293 for a free, initial consultation.