Question: My employer let me go after only two days working as a bartender at a Chicago restaurant. My schedule was Wednesday through Saturday, but my childcare fell through. I told my manager, and kept in touch with her over the next couple of days while I worked everything out. When I called and told her I had childcare but couldn’t work Wednesdays, she told me they were going to go with someone else and didn’t want to take a risk because I had kids and unreliable child care. Isn’t that discrimination? A lot of people say I may have a lawsuit. Do I? — Anonymous
Answer: Unfortunately for you, Illinois is an “at-will” state, which means employers can let you go for any reason, so long as bias against a legally protected group is not involved. The law states that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, or disability. And, though it wasn’t too bright of the manager to tell you that she was letting you go because you have kids, the law doesn’t protect you because of your parental status.
Childcare is always an issue for working mothers – one that your employer doesn’t want to hear about. In the rarest of cases, employers provide on-sight child care. But for most working moms, it’s up to us. Calling the manager and telling her about your troubles over a couple of days probably didn’t help, either. Your employer expects you to show up for work, and they don’t want to hear about your personal problems. You just have to find a way to make it happen.
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.