On March 9, 2022, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant employer in a lawsuit filed by a former employee, who alleged that the employer violated the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") by terminating her employment four days after she returned to work from an FMLA leave of absence. Anderson v. Nations Lending Corporation, No. 21-1885 (7th Cir. March 9, 2022). She filed a federal lawsuit for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as for interference and retaliation under the FMLA. In an FMLA interference lawsuit, the employee has the burden to demonstrate that the interference occurred. To prevail on an FMLA interference claim, a plaintiff must establish that: (1) she was eligible for the FMLA; (2) her employer was covered by the FMLA; (3) she was entitled to leave under the FMLA; (4) she provided notice of her intent to take leave; and (5) her employer denied her FMLA benefits to which she was entitled. At issue in this case was the fifth element.
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On February 11, 2022, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Pontinen v. US Steel Corporation, No. 21-1612 (7th Cir. Feb. 11, 2022). The employer rescinded an offer of employment after determining that the potential employee's disability--seizure disorder--posed a direct threat to himself and to others in the workplace. The 7th Circuit concluded that summary judgment was appropriate because the undisputed evidence demonstrated that the disability was not the 'but for' cause of the rescission of the job offer.
On December 23, 2021, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, held that the Amended Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (the "Act") creates a statutory cause of action for retaliatory discharge for an employee whose employment has been terminated for exercising his or her rights under the Act. Dichiarro v. Woodland Maintenance Group, LLC, et al., 2021 IL App (2d) 210418 (2nd Dist. Dec. 23, 2021). The plaintiff alleged that the defendants terminated her employment in retaliation for and because of her repeated demands for payment of unpaid wages due and owing to her under the terms and conditions of her employment agreement. Under Illinois common law, an employer may discharge an employee at will, at any time, with or without cause. Illinois courts, however, have recognized the tort of retaliatory discharge as a limited and narrow exception to the at-will employment doctrine.
On December 17, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer in a lawsuit for race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII") and the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). Miller et al. v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al., No. 20-3005 (7th Cir. Dec. 17, 2021). After being fired by the Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA"), the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging that they were terminated because of their race and in retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The district court concluded that the racial discrimination claims failed because the undisputed evidence showed that the CTA had legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-pretextual reasons for terminating the plaintiffs. On appeal, the 7th Circuit discussed the retaliation claims.
On November 23, 2021, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, reversed an order of the trial court, that had dismissed the plaintiff's disability discrimination complaint on the ground that he was not disabled within the meaning of the Illinois Human Rights Act (the "Act"). Jackson v. TSA Processing Chicago, Inc., et al., 2021 IL App (2d) 200769 (2nd Dist. Nov. 23, 2021). The plaintiff alleged that the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his disability in violation of the Act. At issue on appeal was whether he is disabled under the Act.
On September 22, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in a Title VII disparate impact employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the Chicago Teachers Union ("CTU") against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago ("Board"), in which the CTU alleged that 2011 mass layoffs disparately impacted African-American teachers. Chicago Teachers Union, et al. v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, No. 20-1167 (7th Cir. Sept. 22, 2021). Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to fire or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or limit, segregate, or classify employees or applicants in any way which would deprive any individual of employment opportunities on account of race.
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