Workplace discrimination and other work-related issues are getting more attention in Illinois and across the United States. This has benefited workers as they have been more likely to report violations and work to be compensated for what they lost. Unfortunately, these incidents still happen. In one case that is currently under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, Google is accused of pregnancy discrimination.
According to a recent survey, companies in Illinois and across the country are actively improving the diversity of their workforce. However, the poll also found that the majority of employees report that they have experienced or witnessed some type of discrimination while at work.
Illinois employees might be interested to learn that workplace retaliation was once again the top charge filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended in September. The agency releases a breakdown of the charges it receives annually, and retaliation also topped the list in 2018.
Music fans in Illinois anticipate the Grammy Awards every year, but a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has exposed allegations of sexual harassment within the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Recording Academy's suspended president and CEO has accused the man serving as the organization's general counsel of repeatedly asking her to spend time with him. According to her complaint, she complained to human resources about his unwanted advances and was placed on administrative leave as a result.
A lawsuit filed in an Illinois federal court on Jan. 7 by two African-American executives accuses McDonald's Corporation of racial discrimination. The female plaintiffs say the Chicago-based fast-food giant nurtures a hostile work environment and denies its black employees promotions. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and claims that the discrimination has cost the two plaintiffs more than $2 million in lost pay and benefits.
While the statistics for employee lawsuits in 2019 may appear promising for improved workplaces in Illinois and nationwide, they may highlight more troubling realities. The year marked the first time in over 10 years that the number of class-action lawsuits filed over issues like workplace discrimination, endangered retirement benefits or wage and hour violations dropped. However, this may not indicate that employers are actually improving their practices or offering safer, more responsive and equitable workplaces. Instead, a growing number of workplaces may be enforcing arbitration against employees rather than allowing them to proceed with class-action lawsuits.
Being properly paid is an important worker right. Accordingly, workers who are not paid their entitled wages may file a claim and seek enforcement with the Illinois Department of Labor. But, 75 percent of workers who won a wage claim under the state's employment law since 2018 have not received any money.
In addition to guarding against unlawful conduct, such as discrimination and sexual harassment, employers are responsible for other employee protections. Based, in part, on information from employment law proponents, 17 Chicago-area fast food employees sued McDonald's for a citywide and national pattern of violence.