On December 8, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a lawsuit filed by a social worker against the Chicago Board of Eduction alleging gender and disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation. Williams v. Board of Education of City of Chicago, No. 19-3152 (7th Cir. 12/8/2020). The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to award him certain positions on account of his gender and disability, as well as in retaliation for his protected activity of requesting an accommodation for his disability and filing discrimination claims.
On November 23, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service under the Rehabilitation Act, which is the equivalent of the Americans with Disabilities Act for federal employees. Vargas v. Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General, No. 20-1116 (7th Cir. Nov. 23, 2020). After he aggravated an old foot injury on the job, the plaintiff was placed on work restrictions that prohibited him from lifting and carrying heavy weights. This created a problem for him because his job duties included carrying heavy loads and packages. He requested accommodations from the employer, but without any alternative jobs for him to do, his accommodation request was denied. Consequently, he had to take paid sick leave for several weeks and eventually went on unpaid leave. He sued his employer under Title VII for race discrimination and retaliation, and for disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act.
On October 27, 2020, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in an Illinois state court lawsuit for retaliatory discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Dipietro v. GATX Corp., 2020 IL App (1st) 192196. The plaintiff alleged that her termination of employment violated clearly mandated public policy announced in the Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act (the "Act") and the Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) the plaintiff did not engage in any protected activity; (2) her discharge did not violate public policy; (3) there was no causal connection between her complaints and her termination; and (4) the proffered reason for her termination was not pretextual. The defendant also argued that its alleged conduct was not sufficiently outrageous to support the plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and that her claimed emotional distress was not actionable.
On September 4, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged discrimination on the basis of sexual-orientation and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Marshall v. Indiana Department of Correction, No. 19-3270 (7th Cir. Sept. 4, 2020). In its opinion, the 7th Circuit recognized that in Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll. of Ind., 853 F.3d 339, 341 (7th Cir. 2017), the 7th Circuit extended Title VII to include sexual-orientation discrimination; and that in Bostock v. Clayton Cty., Ga., 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), the Supreme Court did the same. According to the Supreme Court, Title VII prohibits employers from firing an employee on the basis of sexual orientation.
On August 6, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged associational disability discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Pierri v. Medline Industries, Inc., No. 19-3356 (7th Cir. Aug. 6, 2020). The plaintiff was a chemist for the defendant. Initially, he did well at the company, but problems arose after he asked for accommodations to enable him to take care of his ailing grandfather. The defendant gave him time off to take care of his grandfather under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). However, the plaintiff claimed that his supervisor then became so hostile to him that he required personal time off because of the stress. He took FMLA leave and never returned to work. The defendant eventually terminated his employment for his failure to return to work or provide a return date.
On August 5, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in a Title VII race discrimination lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that her teaching contract was not renewed on account of her race. Allen-Noll v. Madison Area Technical College, et al., No. 19-2639 (7th Cir. Aug. 5, 2020). When her teaching contract with the MATC was not renewed, the plaintiff sued her former employer, alleging racial discrimination and harassment. The primary adverse employment action that the plaintiff claimed to have suffered was the college's decision to not renew her contract. However, she offered no evidence that this was because of her race, or in retaliation for her internal complaint of discrimination. Her allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation were unsupported by any facts.
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 June 29, 2020, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, reversed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant-employer in a retaliation lawsuit in which the former employee-plaintiff alleged claims for Illinois common law retaliatory discharge and violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Protection Act (the "Act"). Hubert v. The Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 2020 IL App (1st) 190790 (June 29, 2020). The plaintiff worked for the Chicago Public Schools managing bus transportation services. He became aware that private bus vendors that the school system had hired were overbilling the school system. After he worked to root out the fraud by voicing his concerns within the school system and by meeting with law enforcement, his employment with the Chicago Public Schools was terminated. The plaintiff contends that he was unlawfully terminated in retaliation for working to expose fraud.
On February 20, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant employer in a disability discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Stelter v. Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation, No. 18-3689 (7th Cir. Feb. 20, 2020). The plaintiff alleged that she was disabled under the ADA with back pain aggravated by a work injury. She claimed that the defendant failed to accommodate her disability and terminated her employment because of her disability in violation of the ADA. The record contained evidence, however, that the defendant terminated her on account of legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.
On February 13, 2020, the 7th Circuit issued an opinion in which it explain the respective responsibilities of both employers and employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Lutes v. United Trailers, Inc., et al., No. 19-1579 (7th Cir. Feb. 13, 2020). The plaintiff sued under the FMLA, alleging that the defendant failed to properly notify him of his FMLA rights, and terminated his employment in retaliation for attempting to exercise his FMLA rights. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant. The 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment as to the FMLA retaliation claim, but vacated the district court's judgment on the FMLA interference claim.