On May 18, 2018, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by a terminated employee for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Harris v. Allen County Board of Commissioners, No. 17-2577 (7th Cir. 5/18/2018). The question in this case was whether the defendant was the plaintiff's employer for purposes of ADA liability. The ADA makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the terms and conditions of a qualified individual's employment on the basis of a physical or mental impairment that constitutes a disability within the meaning of the ADA, and requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals' disabilities. In order to establish an ADA claim, the plaintiff was required, but failed to establish that the defendant was his employer.
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On April 17, 2018, a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that under Illinois law, a covenant not to compete is unenforceable per se if the covenant, on its face, restricts an employee from taking any position with another company that engages in the same business as the employer, without regard to whether that position is similar to the position that the employee held with the employer or otherwise competes with the employer. Medix Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Dumrauf, 17 C 6648 (N.D.Ill 4/17/2018). The employee entered into an employment at-will, confidentiality, and non-compete agreement with the employer and subsequently executed an employee confidentiality/non-compete agreement. The agreement included a covenant not to compete that restricted the employee, for a period of eighteen (18) months following termination of employment, within a radius of 50 miles from any office of the employer where the employee performed services for the employer, from employment in any capacity with any business that either offers a product or services in actual competition with the employer, or which may be engaged directly or indirectly in the employer's business.
On April 30, 2018, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant employer in a federal lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant retaliated against him for exercising his rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Freelain v. Village of Oak Park et al., No. 16-4074 (7th Cir. 4/30/2018). The plaintiff, an Oak Park police officer, made an internal complaint of sexual harassment, alleging that another officer made unwelcome sexual advances toward him. After he reported the alleged sexual harassment, he began to experience migraine headaches and other medical conditions that he attributed to stress related to the alleged sexual harassment, for which he took time off work. He alleged that as a result of his medical condition and use of leave time, the defendant retaliated against him, in violation of the FMLA and ADA, by classifying his sick leave as unpaid, requiring him to undergo a psychological evaluation before returning to duty, and waiting three months before approving his request to engage in outside employment. The 7th Circuit held that the subject employment actions did not constitute protected activity and that therefore, the plaintiff's FMLA and ADA retaliation claims failed as a matter of law.
On April 26, 2018, the 7th Circuit held that the disparate impact provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") protects both outside job applicants and current employees from employment practices that have a disparate impact on older workers. Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation, No. 17-1206 (7th Cir. 4/26/2018). The ADEA prohibits employment practices that discriminate intentionally against older workers as well as employment policies that are facially neutral but have a disparate impact on older workers. In this case, the 7th Circuit recognized a cause of action under the ADEA for disparate impact failure-to-hire, in the context of a hiring policy which limited the applicant pool for an attorney position to applicants with three to seven years (but no more than seven years) of legal experience.
On April 16, 2018, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, reversed the dismissal of an Illinois common law retaliatory discharge claim. Roberts v. Board of Trustees Community College, 2018 IL App (1st) 170067 (4/16/2018). The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against his former employer alleging claims for common law retaliatory discharge, violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act, and wrongful termination. The circuit court dismissed the retaliatory discharge claim and whistleblower claim. The First District reversed the dismissal of the plaintiff's retaliatory discharge claim, but affirmed the dismissal of his claim under the Whistleblower Act. Illinois follows the employment at-will rule, which means that an employee who does not have a specified term of employment under an employment contract is subject to termination by the employer at any time for any or no reason, with or without notice. However, Illinois recognizes an exception to the general employment at-will rule when the discharge violates a clear mandate of public policy.
On April 24, 2018, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant employer in a Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") interference lawsuit on the basis that the suit was time-barred under the FMLA's two-year statute of limitations. Sampra v. United States Department of Transportation, No. 17-2621 (7th Cir. 4/24/2018). The plaintiff sued her employer alleging that it unlawfully interfered with her rights under the FMLA by reassigning her to a different position after she returned from pregnancy leave. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant on the merits, finding that the plaintiff was offered essentially the same position upon her return from FMLA pregnancy leave. The 7th Circuit affirmed, without reaching the merits, on the different ground that the plaintiff's FMLA lawsuit was time-barred because the plaintiff failed to file her complaint within the applicable two-year statute of limitations. The three-year statute of limitations did not apply because the plaintiff failed to provide evidence that the defendant willfully violated her rights under the FMLA.
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