What constitutes a case of discrimination?

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What constitutes a case of discrimination?

I have been an employee of a hospital for 4 years never had an issue until now.About 5 weeks ago I suffered from a anxiety attack due to work related issues. I made my manager fully aware of the situation before this attack by asking for some possible assistance but I was denied help and forced to move from my department to an even worse one – the ER. I then took a medical leave for 12 weeks. Since have been gone there has been 2 people working in my area. How does that happen when i was denied any help due to it not fitting in the budget? I’m completely confused and have gone through HR and they have failed me thus far. Also, my manager has failed to pay me.

Asked on May 25, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Contrary to popular belief:

1) Employers *can* discriminate, or treat certain employees worse than or differently from others, so long as they are not discriminating on a specificlaly protected basis: for example, no discrimination due to employee race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability. (Note: an anxiety attack due to work related issues would almost certainly not qualify as a disability--a disability must have a pervasive impact on basic life functions, must be suported by a medical diagnosis, and must not be readily remediated or controlled.) If the different or worse treatment is not based on a protected characteristic, it is allowed--for example, an employer can treat an employee worse simply because the employer does not like him or her.

2) Employers do not have to be consistent or share the real reasons why they do the things they do (unless, that is, you sue the employer and compel them to answer questions, provide testimony under oath, or provide documentation). So the employer could tell you there was no budget to help you, then spend money hiring others.

From what you write, unless you can trace the treatment of you to discrimination based on a protected characteristic, you most likely have no claim. As stated, in my experience, the anxiety attack you describe would not constitute a disability for this purpose, but you could certainly consult in detail with an employment law attorney to see if perhaps you can assert a claim based on it.


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