On January 24, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in a lawsuit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Youngman v. Peoria County, No. 18-2544 (7th Cir. Jan. 24, 2020). The plaintiff was placed on medical leave after he informed his supervisor that he could no longer work shifts in the control room. When changes in job rotations had resulted in his temporary assignment to the control room, he experienced various symptoms. He requested that he not be assigned to the control room in the future as a reasonable accommodation, but was informed that was not possible. He was instructed that he could return to work if and when his condition improved. After his leave time expired, his position was filled, and he filed a lawsuit under the ADA, alleging that the defendant had refused to accommodate his disability and forced him out of his position. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant on the ground that the plaintiff was responsible for the breakdown of the interactive process required by the ADA when an employee requests an accommodation. The 7th Circuit affirmed, but on a different ground.
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On January 3, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting a defendant-employer's motion for summary judgment in a Title VII race discrimination failure-to-promote lawsuit. Barnes v. Board of Trustees Of The University of Illinois, et al., No. 19-1781 (7th Cir. Jan. 3, 2020). The plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") after an administrator of the defendant-employer promoted a white applicant instead of the plaintiff, who is African-American. The 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's order of summary judgment because the plaintiff did not present evidence that the administrator's stated reason for selecting the white applicant was pretext for unlawful racial discrimination.
On December 30, 2019, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, issued an opinion that discussed the circuit court's ruling that an employee confidentiality provision contained in an employment agreement was overly broad in scope and therefore unenforceable. Indeck Energy Services, Inc. v. DePodesta, et al., 2019 IL App (2d) 190043 (Dec. 30, 2019). The plaintiff-employer filed a lawsuit against former employees for breach of their employment contracts and for injunctive relief to enforce its confidentiality and noncompetition agreements. After a bench trial, the trial court directed a finding in the defendants' favor, finding, among other things, that the confidentiality agreement was void and unenforceable.
On December 4, 2019, the 7th Circuit held that a jury verdict in favor of a defendant-employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Stegall v. Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, No. 18-2345 (7th Cir. Dec. 4, 2019). The plaintiff claimed that after she interviewed for a position, she received an offer of employment from the defendant at the end of her interview. She also claimed that when and because she subsequently disclosed her physical and mental disabilities, the defendant rescinded the offer of employment in violation of the ADA. She filed claims of disability and race discrimination in federal court. After a trial, the jury found that the plaintiff had a disability, that the defendant regarded her as having a disability, and that the defendant failed to hire the plaintiff. However, the jury also found that even without her physical disability, the plaintiff would not have been hired; and that her non-hiring was not unlawfully motivated based on her disabilities.
On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ("FFCRA"), which creates two new emergency paid leave requirements in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act ("EPSLA") entitles certain employees to take up to two weeks of paid sick leave. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act ("EFMLEA") permits certain employees to take up to twelve weeks of expanded family and medical leave, ten of which are partially paid. On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act"), which amended certain provisions of the EPSLA and EFMLEA.
The FFCRA generally covers private employers with fewer than 500 employees and certain public agencies with one or more employees.
On March 18, 2020, the United States Senate passed the Omnibus Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act ("EFMLEA") and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act ("EPSLA"), with which employers must immediately familiarize themselves. The following is a summary of the key provisions of the EFMLEA and the EPSLA, which are expected to be signed into law by the President.
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act:
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