Do I have a discrimination/bias case against my employer?

I’ve been working in my dept part time for over 3 years. About 1 year ago, a part-time

co-worker quit. I asked my manager if I could go up to full-time. She told me no and gave the reason hat we needed to keep up adequate staff. She hired someone who just recently quit. The original co-worker who quit last year was hired back part-time. I found a full-time position in a different department. I just found out that my manager offered this employee my part-time hours in order to make her full-time. Do I have a discrimination/bias case? This manager has been hostile and disrespectful to me in the past. I hate to bring up the issue of race but I’m black and the flip-flopping co-worker is white as is the manager.

Asked on June 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Race is only possible legitimate issue--and there is no reason to feel bad about bringing it up: this nation is dedicated to the proposition that racial discrimination is wrong.
As a general matter, employment (unless you have a written employment contract--and very few of us do) is "employment at will." This means that you may be terminated at any time, for any reason--or, less dramatically, may have hours reduced, may be denied an increase to full-time status, etc. It also means your employer may be disrespectful, hostile, etc. to you, and if you don't like it, your only recourse is to seek another job.
But there are exceptions, and the main one is based on race: you cannot discriminate against, or harass, an employee or prospective employee because of his or her race. If you believe that race (and not, say, relative experience, seniority, credentials, past job performance, etc.) is the reason you were treated differently (worse), then you should speak to the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency to explore whether you have a discrimination claim. Good luck.


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