DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT AT WORK:
Your Rights and How to Enforce Them
A Publication of :
Chicago Lawyers’ Committee
for Civil Rights Under Law
100 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 600
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Mexican American Legal Defense
and Educational Fund
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60603
Federal, state, Cook County, and City of Chicago law all make it illegal for an employer to
discriminate against you, harass you at work or allow you to be harassed by others, or retaliate
against you if you make a complaint about discrimination or harassment. This pamphlet provides
some basic facts about your right to be free of discrimination at work and what you can do if you
have experienced discrimination or harassment.
What is discrimination?
In general terms, discrimination occurs when you are treated unfairly or differently than
your co-workers. Discrimination is only illegal, however, when it is based on certain protected
personal characteristics determined by law. It is important to remember that certain types of
discrimination may not be illegal, even if they seem unfair.
What types of discrimination are illegal?
Different types of discrimination are illegal under different laws. Under federal, state,
Cook County, and City of Chicago law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you
based on one or more of the following characteristics:
Discrimination based on CITIZENSHIP STATUS is illegal under federal and state law;
this means that if you are lawfully authorized to work in the United States, an employer cannot
discriminate against you because you are not a U.S. citizen. State, Cook County, and City of
Chicago law prohibit discrimination based on SEXUAL ORIENTATION, MARITAL
STATUS, or MILITARY DISCHARGE STATUS. State law also prohibits discrimination
based on an ARREST RECORD.