On February 3, 2016, the 7th Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment on a white construction worker's claims for reverse racial discrimination under Title VII and Section 1981. Deets v. Massman Construction Company, et al., No. 15-1411 (7th Cir., 2/3/2016). The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in which he alleged that the employer laid him off because of his race, white. Title VII's prohibition against racial discrimination includes reverse discrimination. The plaintiff alleged that when he asked the project superintendent for the reason he was being laid off, the superintendent told him that his "minority numbers" aren't right; "I'm supposed to have 13.9 percent minorities on this job and I've only got 8 percent." The plaintiff further alleged that later on the day of his lay-off, another superintendent stated to him that he was "sorry to hear about this minority thing." Read more »
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On January 20, 2016, a United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a claim for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on the ground that sexual orientation is not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). Igasaki v. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, et al., No. 15-cv-03693 (N.D.Ill., 1/20/2016). The plaintiff alleged that he was subjected to discrimination based on his race, sex, age, and disability, and that he was retaliated against for complaining about his mistreatment. He alleged that a supervisor harassed him on the basis of his sex after the supervisor allegedly learned of his sexual orientation. The defendants argued that what the plaintiff attempted to characterize as a sex discrimination claim was actually a claim for discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation, and, therefore, must be dismissed because sexual orientation discrimination is not actionable under Title VII. The judge agreed with the defendants, citing Hamner v. St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr., Inc., 224 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 2000) as precedent that harassment based solely upon a person's sexual preference or sexual orientation (and not on one's sex) is not an unlawful employment practice under Title VII. Read more »
On January 13, 2016, the 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor a defendant employer on claims of gender and national origin discrimination as well as retaliation brought by a plaintiff employee under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Equal Pay Act ("EPA"). Jaburek v. Foxx, No. 15-2165 (7th Cir., 1/13/2016). The plaintiff, a woman of Mexican descent who worked for the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") at its Des Plaines, Illinois office, alleged that the FAA discriminated against her on account of her gender and national origin by paying her less than male or white employees who did the same work. She also alleged that the FAA retaliated against her for complaining about the discrimination. Read more »
There is a judicial split between federal judges in the Northern District of Illinois and the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, on the issue of whether two years of continued employment is required for adequate consideration to support a non-competition provision in an employment contract under Illinois law. In 2013, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, held that (absent other consideration) at least two years of employment is required as consideration to support a non-compete or non-solicitation clause in an employment agreement. Fifield v. Premier Dealer Servs., Inc., 373 Ill.Dec. 379, 993 N.E.2d 938 (Ill.App.1st Dist. 2013). Otherwise, the non-compete or non-solicitation provision is unenforceable for lack of consideration, even if the employee left employment voluntarily. Read more »
On January 4, 2016, the 7th Circuit affirmed a judgment on a jury verdict in favor of an employer in an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed on behalf of an employee by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. AutoZone, Inc., No. 15-1753 (7th Cir., 1/4/2016). The EEOC alleged that the employer failed to accommodate the employee's disability (lifting restriction) and terminated the employee because of her disability, in violation of the ADA. After a five-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the employer, finding that the employee was not a qualified individual with a disability at the time that her employment was terminated. Read more »
On December 28, 2015, the 7th Circuit reversed the dismissal of an employment discrimination lawsuit. Tate v. SCR Medical Transportation, No. 15-1447 (7th Cir., 12/28/2015). The pro se plaintiff had alleged that the defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his sex and disability, and retaliated against him for complaining about discrimination. The district court dismissed the suit (without allowing the plaintiff to amend the complaint) on the ground that the complaint failed to state a claim because it lacked specificity. The 7th Circuit held that the complaint satisfied the "undemanding standard" for the plaintiff's Title VII employment discrimination case, in which he had adequately alleged sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of sex, and retaliation for engaging in protected activity. Indeed, a complaint of sex discrimination must only allege that the employer took a specific adverse employment action against the plaintiff on the basis of her or his sex. Read more »
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