How do I know if I have been treated illegally?
First of all, it is important to realize that it is not illegal for an employer to be mean, inconsiderate, or illogical in the treatment of its employees. For example, if a company fires an employee without any good reason, or under a false belief that the employee failed to perform well, that is not illegal by itself. Employers are allowed to make bad decisions.
However, an employer cannot fire an employee, or discipline or otherwise treat an employee unfavorably, because of that person’s protected status. Of course, employers will not typically admit that an employment decision was made due to a person’s age, race, religion, or other protected status. Employers cannot, however, use a false reason to treat a person differently because of his or her status. In other words, if an employer wanted to fire a woman because of her gender, that employer could not claim the woman was not performing well, even if that is true, if the real reason for firing her is because she is a woman.