What constitutes a case of discrimination?

UPDATED: May 25, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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