On May 20, 2016, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed a decision of the Cook County Commission on Human Rights ("Commission") in favor of a County employee on her sexual harassment and age discrimination claims against the County under Cook County ordinance. Cook County Sheriff's Office v. Cook County Commission On Human Rights, 2016 IL App (1st) 150718 (5/20/2016). The employee filed a claim with the Commission in which she alleged that she was subjected to ongoing sexual harassment as well as harassment on the basis of her age. She alleged that her co-worker and eventual supervisor subjected her to ongoing sexual discrimination by engaging in unwanted physical touching and sexually offensive remarks in the workplace. She also alleged that he made age-based jokes and derogatory remarks toward her in front of co-workers. The alleged sexual harassment and age-related harassment continued unabated despite the employee's complaints to the director of her department. Read more » about Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Sexual Harassment Award
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On May 6, 2016, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a tenured professor against a college under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Roberts v. Columbia College Chicago, et al., No. 15-2079 (7th Cir., 5/6/2016). In this case, a college terminated a professor after it discovered that he had allegedly plagiarized several chapters in a textbook. He claimed that his termination was unlawful discrimination on the basis of his age. The ADEA prohibits an employer from terminating or otherwise discriminating against an employee because of his or her age. The protected class under the ADEA covers individuals who are 40 years of age or older. The plaintiff did not produce any evidence that the decision-maker harbored any age-based discriminatory animus against him. Instead, he tried to advance his claim under the "cat's paw" theory of liability--that the decision-maker's decision was influenced by a subordinate employee--who acted for discriminatory reasons. Read more » about 7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on Age Discrimination Claim
On May 3, 2016, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed an order of the trial court which granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff's age and disability discrimination employment discharge claims brought under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). Kreczko v. Triangle Package Machinery Co., 2016 IL App (1st) 151762 (5/3/2016). This was an employment discrimination case under the IHRA, Illinois' state anti-discrimination law, rather its federal counterpart, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). The defendant discharged the plaintiff after receiving several customer complaints about his job performance. Four months later, the defendant replaced the plaintiff with a newly hired younger Hispanic employee. The plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and subsequently filed a lawsuit in state court in which he alleged age, race, and disability discrimination. The trial court dismissed the race discrimination claim, and granted summary judgment on the age and disability claims. The plaintiff did not establish a case of unlawful discrimination because he failed to meet the defendant's legitimate performance expectations, and the defendant offered a reason for his discharge (unsatisfactory job performance) that was not pretext for unlawful discrimination. Read more » about Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment on Illinois Human Rights Act Employment Discrimination Claims
On April 27, 2016, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, held that hostile work environment based on disability harassment as well as failure to provide reasonable accommodation are separate and distinct claims under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). Rozsavolgyi v. City of Aurora, 2016 IL App (2d) 150493 (4/27/2016). The IHRA prohibits discrimination in employment and other contexts based on a variety of protected classifications, including disability. In this case, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated the IHRA by discriminating against her on the basis of her disabilities, subjecting her to harassment on the basis of her disabilities (creating a hostile work environment), failing to provide her with reasonable accommodation for her disabilities, and retaliating against her for her complaints by terminating her employment. On appeal, the defendant argued, among other things, that there is no separate claim for disability harassment or failure to accommodate under the IHRA. The appellate court disagreed and reached the opposite conclusion through its statutory interpretation of the IHRA, based on Illinois Human Rights Commission decisions, legislative history, and federal court decisions construing analogous federal statutes. Read more » about Illinois Appellate Court Holds that Disability Harassment and Failure to Accommodate are Cognizable as Separate and Distinct Claims Under the Illinois Human Rights Act
On April 27, 2016, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her race (black), in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"), and failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability (chronic fatigue syndrome), in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Wells v. Winnebago County, Illinois, No. 15-1805 (7th Cir., 4/27/2016). The district court granted summary judgment on two grounds: (1) that any discrimination was attributable to state rather than county workers; and (2) there was not enough evidence to allow a reasonable jury to find discrimination. The 7th Circuit disagreed with the district court's first reason, stating that employers must control the behavior of others in the workplace to ensure nondiscriminatory work conditions; and that the federal anti-discrimination laws cannot be so easily evaded. Read more » about 7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on Title VII Discrimination and ADA Failure to Accommodate Claims
On March 18, 2016, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a Title VII lawsuit in which the plaintiff sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") for workplace discrimination on the basis of race, retaliation for filing prior EEOC charges, and hostile work environment. Boss v. Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, No. 14-2996 (7th Cir., 3/18/2016). The plaintiff was employed by HUD as a general engineer for nearly a decade. During his employment, he filed one complaint of sex, race and age discrimination with the EEOC, followed by another complaint of race discrimination and retaliation. In his federal lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that various negative job actions were taken against him in retaliation for his EEOC complaints and because of his race. The district court granted summary judgment on the grounds that the incidents of which he complained did not constitute adverse employment actions, he was not subjected to disparate treatment, and he was not subjected to a hostile work environment. Read more » about 7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on Title VII Discrimination, Retaliation and Hostile Work Environment Claims
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