On January 29, 2015, the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment on the plaintiff's claims for national origin discrimination and retaliation. Yaroslav v. Means-Knaus Partners, L.P., Nos. 13-3302 & 14-2768 (7th Cir., 1-29-2015). Plaintiff, a custodian for thirteen years, alleged that his employer disciplined him and terminated his employment because of his Ukrainian national origin and in retaliation for filing charges of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. He alleged that his supervisor mocked his mixed use of Ukrainian and Polish, in front of his co-workers. He also alleged that his employer treated custodians who are not in his protected class more favorably than him. The 7th Circuit concluded that the plaintiff's failure to meet the employer's legitimate performance expectations doomed his employment discrimination claim under the indirect method of proof. Read more »
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On January 27, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the plaintiff's employment discrimination and retaliation claims. Awok Ani-Deng v. Jeffboat, LLC, No. 14-2155 (7th Cir., 1-27-2015). The plaintiff, a female Sudanese shipyard welder, alleged that her employer demoted her and laid her off in retaliation for her complaints of sex and national origin discrimination that she had filed with the EEOC. After her layoff, the company send the plaintiff a work recall notice, to which she failed to timely respond. The 7th Circuit found that the employer demoted the plaintiff for safety reasons, laid her off as part of a general seniority-based reduction-in-force, and would have recalled her had she timely responded to the notice. Read more »
On January 14, 2015, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the defendant in a state court age discrimination lawsuit brought under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Cipolla v. Village of Oak Lawn, 2015 IL App (1st) 132228 (1-14-2015). The plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and later filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook County, in which she alleged that the defendant terminated her employment on account of her age in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act. Section 1-102(A) of the Act provides that it is the public policy of Illinois to secure freedom from discrimination against any individual because of her age or other protected class. After a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed on several grounds and argued to the Appellate Court that the jury's verdict should be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial. Read more »
On January 12, 2015, the 7th Circuit reversed the entry of summary judgment on a Title VII retaliation claim. Greengrass v. International Monetary Systems, Ltd., No. 13-2901 (7th Cir., 1-12-2015). The plaintiff alleged that her former employer retaliated against her for filing a charge of employment discrimination and sexual harassment with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by naming her in the litigation section of a publicly available SEC filing, in which it labeled her charge as meritless. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the company on the basis that the plaintiff failed to establish a causal connection between her EEOC filing and the alleged retaliation. The 7th Circuit found that the plaintiff established a claim for retaliation. She engaged in protected activity by filing her charge; the company took adverse employment action by naming her in its SEC filing; and there was enough evidence for a jury to conclude that the company did so because of her charge. Read more »
On January 4, 2015, Illinois Governor Quinn signed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act (S.B.2758). This new Illinois law applies to Illinois private sector employers: (1) with 25 or more employees, (2) that have been in business for at least two years, and (3) do not already offer their employees retirement benefits. By June 1, 2017, covered employers will be required to provide their employees with a retirement savings plan under the state-operated Secure Choice Savings Program. The plan is actually a mandatory 3% payroll wage deduction deposited into a state-run retirement fund. There is an opt-out provision for employees who choose to not participate in the program. Automatic enrollment in the program is mandatory for all employees who do not opt out. The employer obligations are to offer the plan to all full-time employees and auto-enroll all employees who do not opt out. No employer contributions are required. The secure choice plan is not an employer-sponsored plan; it is a state-run program. The employer is not a fiduciary. The Act becomes effective on June 1, 2015. Read more »
On December 11, 2014, the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, reversed the trial court's order granting a preliminary injunction that enforced a noncompetition agreement. Prairie Rheumatology Associates v. Francis, 2014 IL APP (3d) 140338. The restrictive covenant, part of a physician's employment contract, prohibited the physician from competing with her employer within a 14-mile radius of its office for two years after the termination of her employment. Under Illinois law, a post-employment restrictive covenant is enforceable only if it is reasonable in geographic and temporal scope and necessary to protect an employer's legitimate business interest. A restrictive covenant is reasonable only if it: (1) is no greater than required to protect a legitimate business interest of the employer; (2) does not impose undue hardship on the employee; and (3) does not harm the public. Read more »
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