It is a violation of both federal and Illinois law for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees because of their military service. We aggressively prosecute employers who refuse to hire, promote, retain, or harass employees because of their military service. Service members in Illinois are protected by federal law known as The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation because of their military service obligations. If you would like to learn more about your rights under USERRA and IHRA, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.
THE UNIFORMED SERVICES EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS ACT (USERRA):
USERRA protects service members from discrimination and hostile work environment; reemployment after military service with seniority and benefits; and retaliation.
USERRA, unlike other employment statutes, like the Illinois Human Rights Act, does not require service members to exhaust administrative remedies before suing a private employer for violating their rights. A service member can elect to pursue his/her rights through either a private right of action in federal district court or through government assistance. There is no statute of limitations for claims under USERRA accruing on or after October 10, 2008. Service members are not charged a filing fee to pursue their rights under USERRA in the federal court.
Remedies under USERRA include: injunctive relief; reinstatement; lost wages and benefits; and liquidated damages if there is evidence that the employer’s violation of the USERRA was willful. The court may also order the employer to pay the service member’s attorney’s fees and litigation costs. Due to the limitations on damages under USERRA we suggest that a service member seek immediate legal representation so that a claim can be timely filed under the Illinois Human Rights Act with provides broader remedies.
If you would like to learn more about your rights under USERRA, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.
ILLINOIS HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
In addition the the protections provided by USERRA, service members have protection under the Illinois Human Rights Act from any discrimination, harassment, and retaliation because of their military status.
Under the IHRA, 775 ILCS 5/1-103(J-1) Military Status means a persons status as on active duty in or status as a veteran of the armed forces of the United States, status as a current member of any reserve component of the armed forces of the United States, including the United States Army Reserve, United States Marine Corps Reserve, United States Navy Reserve, United States Air Force Reserve, and the United State Coast Guard Reserve, or status as a current member or veteran of the Illinois National Guard or Illinois Air National Guard.
The IHRA 775 ILCS 5/2-102(A) makes it a civil rights violation for any employer to refuse to hire, to segregate, or to act with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, renewal of employment, selection for training or apprenticeship, discharge, discipline, tenure, terms, privileges or conditions of employment on the basis of unlawful discrimination of military status.
Unlike USERRA, a service member only has 180 days to file a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights from date the claim under the Illinois Human Rights Act accrued. It is extremely important that a service member contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect their rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act so that a charge of discrimination can be timely and properly filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Unlike USERRA, a service member seeking redress under the Illinois Human Rights Act must exhaust the administrative process through the Illinois Department of Human Rights before seeking a jury trial in the appropriate court.
Remedies under the Illinois Human Rights Act are much broader than those provided under USERRA. Remedies under the Illinois Human Rights Act include: injunctive relief, reinstatement, lost wages and benefits, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees, litigation costs, and expert witness fees.
If you would like to learn more about your rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.