On February 13, 2018, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a disability discrimination lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that her former employer fired her because of her disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Grussgott v. Milwaukee Jewish Day School, Inc., No. 17-2332 (7th Cir. 2/13/2018). The defendant argued that the First Amendment's ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws, including the ADA, barred the plaintiff's lawsuit. The district court agreed, concluding that the defendant, a Jewish day school, is a religious institution and that the role of the plaintiff as a Hebrew teacher for the school was ministerial.
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On January 2, 2018, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a lawsuit filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), in which the plaintiff, a medical resident, claimed that his employer, a hospital, violated the ADA by discriminating against him because of his disability, a sleep disorder, failing to provide him with reasonable accommodation for his disability, and retaliating against him for asserting his rights under the ADA. Rodrigo v. Carle Foundation Hospital, et al., No. 16-1403 (7th Cir. 1/2/2018). The plaintiff contended that the hospital allowed another resident in its medical residency program to complete the program without passing the required Step 3 test, which the plaintiff did not pass, and that therefore he could establish a claim for disability discrimination under federal law. He also argued that the hospital denied his accommodation requests that it reinstate him to the program and give him the opportunity to re-take the Step 3. On his ADA retaliation claim, the plaintiff asserted that the hospital's termination of his residency and refusal to reinstate him were in retaliation for his protected activity of requesting reasonable accommodation. However, the plaintiff's disability discrimination and failure to accommodate claims failed because he is not a qualified individual with a disability under the ADA. His retaliation claim failed for lack of evidence of any causal connection between any protected activity and adverse job action.
On December 27, 2017, 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 terminated his employment because of his race, national origin, disability, and exercise of his right to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Ennin v. CNH Industrial America, LLC, No. 17-2270 (7th Cir. 12/27/2017). The record indicated that the defendant terminated the plaintiff's employment before it had knowledge of his alleged disability or his FMLA leave; and there was no evidence that the defendant's proffered reasons for the termination were pretext for employment discrimination.
Section 13307 of the 2017 Tax Act (H.R. 1) ("the new tax law"), signed into law on December 22, 2017, significantly impacts settlements of sexual harassment claims by denying tax deductions for settlements subject to nondisclosure agreements paid in connection with sexual harassment or sexual abuse. Section 13307 eliminates the ability of an employer to take a tax deduction for its payment of a sexual harassment settlement, if the settlement is subject to a nondisclosure agreement. It also eliminates the ability of employers and employees to deduct their attorneys' fees in connection with confidential settlements of sexual harassment claims. Section 13307 of the new tax law states that: "...No deduction shall be allowed...for--(1) any settlement or payment related to sexual harassment or sexual abuse if such settlement or payment is subject to a nondisclosure agreement, or (2) attorney's fees related to such a settlement or payment." Employers and human resources professionals should familiarize themselves with Section 13307 and its effect on sexual harassment settlements.
On December 13, 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, reversed the circuit court's dismissal of a workplace discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit on procedural grounds. Metzler v. Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital, 2017 IL App (2d) 170001 (12/13/2017). The plaintiff, who was employed by the defendant for 24 years, most recently as a chemistry supervisor, alleged that he was harassed by a female supervisor, given a negative performance review, suspended, and terminated because of his sex, male, in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act (the "Act"). After his termination, he filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the "Department") alleging unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the Act, which prohibits various types of employment discrimination.
On December 11, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in a sex discrimination lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that her former employer fired her on the basis of her gender, in violation of Title VII. Milligan-Grimstad v. Morgan Stanley, et al., No. 16-4224 (7th Cir. 12/11/2017). The 7th Circuit agreed with the district court, that the defendant terminated the plaintiff on the basis of her job performance. To survive a motion for summary judgment in a Title VII employment discrimination case, a plaintiff must present evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to conclude that the plaintiff's race, ethnicity, sex, religion or other proscribed factor caused the discharge. In this case, the plaintiff failed provide a sufficient evidentiary basis for a jury to conclude that her sex influenced the decision to terminate her employment.
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