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What Is a “Protected Class” as It Relates to Employment Discrimination?

DuPage County Workplace Discrimination Attorneys

There are a number of state and federal laws that are intended to prohibit and police discrimination against individuals with certain, identifiable characteristics. Those who share these characteristics are considered to be part of a “protected class” of people. Employment discrimination occurs when an employer treats a member of a protected class differently from their peers.



Protected classes have been recognized by a variety of federal laws, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, among many others. At the state level, the Illinois Human Rights Act established protections for additional identifiable characteristics.

According to these laws, it is illegal and a violation of the person’s rights for an employer to make adverse employment-related decisions on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • National origin or place of birth;
  • Ancestry;
  • Age;
  • Sex or gender identity;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Marital, pregnancy, or family status;
  • Order of protection status;
  • Disability;
  • Veteran status, including unfavorable discharge; or
  • Citizenship status.

Adverse employment decisions include refusing to hire, segregating, compensating, promoting, disciplining, or otherwise affecting the terms and conditions of a person’s employment.

Employment Discrimination Lawyers Protecting Your Rights

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Human Rights Commission are responsible for ensuring that all people enjoy the benefits of equal opportunity laws. At MKFM Law, we are committed to helping those who have experienced discrimination of any kind in the workplace. If you have been discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic, contact our office so our experienced team can help you take action. Call 630-665-7300 to discuss your case and to explore your available options. Our firm serves clients in DuPage County, Kane County, and throughout Northern Illinois.

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1737 South Naperville Road, Suite 100
Wheaton, IL 60189
630-549-0960
Evening and weekend hours by appointment.

We serve clients throughout Kane County, Illinois including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elgin, Algonquin, Aurora, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Big Rock, Burlington, Campton Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elburn, Hampshire, Huntley, Kaneville, Maple Park, Sleepy Hollow, Wayne, West Dundee as well as throughout DuPage County.

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