I recently got a call from a guy who applied for a job with a Chicago area company. He went through an interview and was offered the job pending the passing of a physical. Naturally he was excited because any job in this day and age is a good one, but this was with a company that he really wanted to work for.
He and his potential boss had agreed on a salary, benefits and a start date. He went for the physical and felt it went fine. He could do everything they asked him to do. He's never had a major injury or illness and said that he's never not been able to do work in any job he's held in the past because of anything physical.
Low and behold, the physical comes back and the examiner says that he is obese and possibly a risk in the work place. As a result the job offer was rescinded and he was out on the street. To make matters worse, he had been offered another job that he turned down because of this new job and that was no longer available.
He called me looking for a referral to an Chicago labor lawyer who would sue this company on his behalf for discrimination.
He's right, he was discriminated against. But there is nothing he can do as it's not illegal to discriminate against someone who is overweight. And if it's not illegal it's not a case.
We've seen similar situations with people losing jobs because they smoke, did drugs, wore "weird" clothing, had too many tattoos or were Chicago White Sox fans (that last one seems justified). The general reasoning behind that is these are all things you can control. Although you can also lose out on a job for something you can't control such as the boss wanting to hire their cousin/boyfriend/neighbor, etc.
When thinking about whether or not you have a case, take out all of the emotion/anger/frustration you have and simply think to yourself, is this legal or illegal? It's only illegal if it's for some reason protected under the law such as age (40+), race, religion, sexual orientation (that's an IL law only, not Federal law), gender, because you are pregnant, because you report illegal activity, etc.
If you don't have something like that and aren't in a union, you are likely out of luck.
The recent caller was a good guy with a great attitude and I'm sure he'll land on his feet. But as for suing, it's not an option and likely never will be for anyone else in the same shoes.
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