I have been working for a cleaning association for the last 8 years. They have a educational benefit that anyone can take advantage of once they are hired. They have paid and are currently paying for other staff to go to college for bachelors and master degrees. For the last 3 years I have tried unsuccessfully to get approval for me to complete my masters degree. The last time I was told no, they told me that it was a financial reason. I have recently found out that they are paying for 2-3 other staff members education currently. I want to find out what legal action I can take to make them pay for my school and the stress that this discrimination has caused me.
State/Country relating to question: Illinois
Hello,Can you tell me are you in a union? About how many employees does your employer have? Are you in a protected class under employment discrimination laws?
There is no union. We have 30 people in our office and few international. I don't understand your last question. I'm a Hispanic male, if that makes any difference. I've attached the documentation in our employee handbook about tuition reimbursement. Also I'm currently going to school on my own expense and should be done in November. Do you think I have a case?
Hello again,Thank you for the information and your question. Just to clarify what I meant by the question about being in a protected class, you hit the nail on the head. I was wondering if you might be a minority or otherwise covered by employment civil rights as protected from discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, gender, religion, etc. So, the fact that you are Hispanic might be an issue here.That said, I have read the company policy and it does have some qualifiers. First, of course, there must be an approval and second it appears that the program must relate to present or future jobs with the company. However, you say that you were told that the decision to deny you was based on finances. That would be a legitimate reason, as would many reasons, if true. The long and short of it is that this benefit is not a legal right. So, that means it can be denied as long as the employer is not violating their own policy, which doesn't appear to be the case since it is very clear that it is a case by case decision, OR as long as the employer is not excluding employees simply because they are a member of a protected class under employment discrimination laws. That means that if you firmly believe that you are being denied because you are Hispanic and not because the employer didn't have some other non-discriminatory reason for denying you, then you could file a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and/or the EEOC. You would want to consult with a local employment law attorney as well. However, if you do not believe that this is about your national origin or race, then you really wouldn't appear to have any legal recourse based on the policy alone since it is not a guaranteed benefit as written. You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Please recognize that the rating system only gives me credit for working with you (pays me out of your deposit) when you click one of the 3 stars/faces on the right (positive rating). Also, kindly rate me based solely on my assistance to you in understanding the law, and not based on whether my answer is what you were hoping to hear. I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and I trust that you can understand how it would be unfair for me to be punished by a (negative rating) ----the first 2 stars/faces----for having been honest with you about the law.
Licensed Attorney with 27 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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