On February 17, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in a federal employment discrimination lawsuit for age, sex, race, and disability discrimination, as well as retaliation. Igasaki v. Illinois Department Of Financial And Professional Regulation, No. 18-3351 (7th Cir. 2/17/2021). The plaintiff, a 62-year-old gay Japanese man with gout, worked as a staff attorney for the State of Illinois. He alleged five claims: (1) race discrimination based on his Asian ethnicity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), arising from the treatment of his job performance and his employment termination; (2) sex discrimination in violation of Title VII, arising from gender stereotyping and a hostile work environment based on his sexual orientation; (3) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), arising from the treatment of his job performance and employment termination; (4) retaliation in violation of Title VII, arising from his employment termination after he filed his EEOC charge of discrimination; and (5) disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), arising from the failure to accommodate his gout disability.
ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)
On January 22, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in an age discrimination lawsuit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Marnocha v. St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, Inc., No. 20-1374 (7th Cir. Jan. 22, 2021). The plaintiff, a neonatologist, alleged that the defendant terminated her employment and failed to rehire her for an open position in the context of a reduction-in-force. The ADEA was enacted by Congress in 1967 to protect older workers from employment discrimination. The ADEA protects employees who are age 40 or older. It is unlawful for employers to take adverse employment action against employees who are in the protected age class because of their age.
On July 15, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed a jury verdict in favor of an employer-defendant in an age and race discrimination and retaliation case under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). Henderson v. Wilkie, Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, No. 19-1369 (7th Cir. July 15, 2020). The case went to trial on the plaintiff's claim that he was not selected for a promotion on the basis of his race. The other claims were decided against the plaintiff on summary judgment. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, and the district court entered final judgment. The plaintiff appealed on evidentiary grounds.
On July 14, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in an age discrimination and disability discrimination lawsuit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). McCann v. Badger Mining Corporation, No. 19-2420 (7th Cir. July 14, 2020). The plaintiff alleged that her former employer discriminated against her on the basis of her age and disability when it failed to transfer her to a position in a different department, and when it eliminated her employment position as part of a reduction in force. On appeal, the plaintiff only challenged the grant of summary judgment on her ADA claim as to the elimination of her position. The 7th Circuit concluded that under the ADA, the plaintiff was required, but failed to come forward with evidence that, but for her disability, the defendant would not have eliminated her position.
On July 1, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in an age discrimination lawsuit filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Tyburski v. City of Chicago, No. 18-3000 (7th Cir. July 1, 2020). The plaintiff, a City of Chicago employee, applied for a promotion when he was age seventy-four, but the city rejected his application. He filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the city violated the ADEA by denying him the promotion because of his age. He also filed a claim for age-based workplace harassment under the ADEA. The 7th Circuit concluded that the plaintiff failed to present evidence that his age, rather than his failing test score for the promotion, was the reason he was denied the promotion. In addition, the 7th Circuit ruled that he did not supply evidence that the alleged age-based harassment was severe or pervasive, which is required to support a hostile work environment claim.
On April 6, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding the legal standards governing age discrimination claims for federal sector employees under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Babb v. Wilkie, 589 U.S. __ (2020). Under the ADEA, private sector employees must prove that age was the "but for" cause of the subject adverse employment action. However, the ADEA contains certain statutory language specific to federal sector employees that warrants a variation on the legal standard. The Supreme Court held that the federal-sector provision of the ADEA requires that personnel actions be "untainted by any consideration of age." However, to obtain damages arising from the end result of an employment decision, a federal sector employee must still satisfy the "but for" causation standard.
On March 27, 2020, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed the findings and decision of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("Commission") against a former employee on her claims of age and disability discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). Burns v. Bombela-Tobias, 2020 IL App (1st) 182309. Although the appellate court concluded that the record as a whole supported the Commission's findings, it also criticized the Commission's legal analysis, and stated Illinois employment law with respect to age and disability discrimination claims under the IHRA.
On November 7, 2019, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the employer-defendant in a lawsuit in which a former employee alleged claims for race, sex, age, and disability discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). McCurry v. Kenco Logistics Services, No. 18-3206 (7th Cir. 11/7/2019). This case was doomed for many reasons, including that the pro se plaintiff failed to follow the local rules of procedure for the federal court of the Northern District of Illinois. In any employment discrimination case, the fundamental issue at the summary judgment stage of the litigation is whether the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to conclude that the plaintiff was subjected to adverse employment action based on a statutorily prohibited factor, such as sex, age, race, or disability.
On October 9, 2019, the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant-employer in an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). McDaniel v. Progress Rail Locomotive, Inc., No. 18-3565 (10/9/2019). The plaintiff alleged that his former employer unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of age and retaliated against him for complaining about a superior, in violation of the ADEA. The plaintiff failed to produce evidence of any substantially younger similarly situated employees who were treated more favorably.
On July 17, 2019, the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's order of summary judgment on an age discrimination claim in which a bus driver alleged that his employment was terminated because of his age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Pickett v. Chicago Transit Authority, No. 18-2785 (7th Cir. July 17, 2019). After an incident with a bus passenger, the plaintiff took a six month leave of absence while recovering. After his physician concluded that he could return to work (but not as a driver), the plaintiff requested a light duty assignment. He was given one, but four days later, he was informed that the defendant was not ready to permit his return to work.