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By: Laura E. Schrick

We often get calls from employees and employers asking if a particular employment action is legal. As you might suspect, the answer turns on the federal and state laws that govern the employment relationship. But did you know that not all of the employment laws you hear about apply to all employers? Generally, whether or not a particular law applies depends upon the size of the employer. Smaller employers typically are not subject to as many laws as larger employers. For this reason, employees and employers need to know what rights, responsibilities and remedies apply to their business. The attorneys at Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. regularly advise employers and employees regarding their rights and bring and defend litigation necessary to vindicate those rights. We would be happy to discuss these matters with you.

Federal Law
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) is the overarching federal anti-discrimination law. It protects individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Its protections extend to sexual harassment and retaliation. (In some places, including Illinois, it currently also protects individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation). Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees during any 20-week period in the current or previous calendar year.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in most aspects of employment. Like Title VII, it applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which protects employees age 40 or older from discrimination based on their age, applies to employers with 20 or more employees.

The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Equal Pay Act, which precludes gender-based wage discrimination among individuals performing similar work under similar conditions, applies to all employers, even those with just one employee.

Illinois
Illinois also has an overarching law governing the employment relationship called the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Illinois Human Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status and sexual orientation. Its protections extend to sexual harassment and retaliation. In disability matters, it applies to all employers, even those with just one employee. In all other matters, it applies to employers with 15 or more employees in Illinois during any 20 weeks of the previous calendar year.

Missouri
In addition to federal law, the Missouri Human Rights Act governs employment relationships in Missouri. It protects individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability or age (40-69). It also extends to sexual harassment and retaliation. The Missouri Human Rights Act applies to employers with 6 or more employees in Missouri during 20 or more weeks in the current or prior calendar year (with certain exceptions for the federal government, Indian tribes and religious and sectarian organizations).

Professional Services Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is as an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice. No warranty is made regarding the applicability of the information presented to a particular client situation, and the information set forth is not a substitute for original legal research, analysis and drafting for a particular client situation.