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 »
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On December 10, 2014, the 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged sex discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Ripberger v. Corizon, Inc., No. 13-2070 (7th Cir., 12-10-2014). The plaintiff/employee claimed that her employer failed to hire her for an open position in connection with a restructuring because of her sex, age, and protected activity of assisting another employee with her sex discrimination grievance. The 7th Circuit agreed with the district court, that the plaintiff was an unfortunate victim of a reduced work force in the wake of the privatization of a state program. The 7th Circuit stated that the fundamental question on summary judgment is simply whether a reasonable jury could find prohibited discrimination, i.e., that a rational jury could conclude that the employer took the adverse action on account of her protected class. Read more »
On December 4, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Illinois Appellate Court and affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court in favor of the defendant in an Illinois common law retaliatory discharge case. Michael v. Precision Alliance Group, 2014 IL 117376 (12-4-2014). The plaintiffs alleged that they were terminated for reporting underweight seed bags to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The defendant contended that it discharged one of the plaintiffs for misconduct and selected the other two for elimination as part of a reduction-in-force. After a bench trial, the circuit court entered judgment in favor the defendant, applying the McDonnell Douglas proof paradigm used in federal employment discrimination cases. The court found that although the plaintiffs established a "causal nexus" between their protected activity and employment terminations, the defendant articulated legitimate reasons for the terminations, which the plaintiffs failed to prove were pretextual. The appellate court reversed on the basis that the circuit court's finding of a "causal nexus" necessarily proved causation and sealed the case for the plaintiffs. The appellate court reasoned that since the plaintiffs had proved causation, they were not required to prove pretext. Read more »
On December 1, 2014, the 7th Circuit reversed summary judgment in a Title VII and Section 1981 action in which the plaintiff alleged that his former employer terminated his employment because of his race and in retaliation for his prior complaints of race discrimination. Parker v. Scheck Mechanical Corporation, No. 13-3693 (7th Cir., 12-1-2014). The district court entered summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff had sued the wrong company and had not sued his actual employer. The 7th Circuit reversed because the two companies are interrelated. The company website treats the two and various other business entities interchangeably, and represents that they are all one company with one corporate headquarters. The 7th Circuit agreed with the plaintiff that the line between the companies is blurred, as reflected by their overlapping corporate officers and shared office space. Moreover, a Manager who stated in an Affidavit that his company (the alleged wrong company) did not employ or discharge the plaintiff, and is entirely separate from the company that did, also stated in the same Affidavit that he has personal knowledge of the details behind the plaintiff's discharge. This was the inconsistency that broke the camel's back. Read more »
On November 26, 2014, the 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The former employee alleged that the employer had failed to accommodate her disability as required by the ADA, had discriminated and retaliated against her based on her disability, had interfered with her FMLA rights, and had discriminated against her based on her race. The 7th Circuit held that: (1) her ADA discrimination claim failed because she did not establish that she was a qualified individual with a disability, or that she met the employer's legitimate job expectations; (2) her failure to meet expectations also precluded her race discrimination claim; (3) her ADA failure-to-accommodate claim failed because her accommodation was not reasonable; (4) there was insufficient evidence to support her ADA retaliation claim; and (5) her FMLA interference claim failed because she was not denied FMLA leave. Read more »
On November 25, 2014, the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in a lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and employment termination for disability-related reasons. The ADA creates a cause of action for qualified individuals with a disability where there has been discrimination in regard to the discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment by a covered entity. An employee must establish that she was employed by the entity that she seeks to hold liable under the ADA. Read more »
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