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.
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 August 17, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment for an employer in a reverse race discrimination lawsuit, in which the plaintiff claimed that he fired because he is white. Bless v. Cook County Sheriff's Office, et al., No. 20-2733 (7th Cir. Aug. 17, 2021). The plaintiff, a Cook County Illinois Sheriff's police officer, was fired in connection with an internal review board determination that he had committed misconduct. The plaintiff sued the County, alleging reverse race discrimination and political retaliation against him as a white Republican. The protections of Title VII are not limited to members of historically discriminated-against groups.
On August 4, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the plaintiff's motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial, in a Title VII retaliation lawsuit tried before a jury in federal court. Brooks v. City of Kankakee, Illinois, No. 20-1395 (7th Cir. Aug. 4, 2021). The plaintiff, an African-American police officer, made three statements complaining that his employer, the City of Kankakee, favored white police officers. The City viewed the statements as false and disparaging. It issued a written reprimand, ordering him to stop making such statements and threatening disciplinary action if he didn't. The written reprimand specifically referenced all three statements. The plaintiff alleged retaliation based on failure to promote and discipline.
On July 20, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer on ADEA and Title VII employment discrimination and retaliation claims, in which the plaintiff alleged that the employer failed to re-hire her for various positions in the Chicago Public School System because of her age and race, as well as in retaliation for her prior discrimination complaint. Chatman v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, No. 20-2882 (7th Cir. July 20, 2021). She alleged violations of Title VII's anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation provisions, as well as a violation of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire any individual with respect to her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
On July 14, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a Title VII employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, in which the plaintiff alleged that he was disciplined and denied a promotion because of his race and gender as well as in retaliation for opposing unlawful sexual harassment. Logan v. City of Chicago, et al., No. 20-1669 (7th Cir. July 14, 2021). Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. For a failure-to-promote claim,
On June 16, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant in a Title VII retaliation and sex discrimination lawsuit, in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant refused to hire her twice, in retaliation for filing an earlier complaint of sex discrimination. Eaton v. J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc., No. 20-1731 (7th Cir. June 16, 2021). The plaintiff had filed a charge of discrimination against the company with the EEOC, alleging that her layoff amounted to unlawful discrimination on the basis of her sex. Subsequently, she filed her federal lawsuit, claiming both sex discrimination and retaliation for previously complaining about sex discrimination. Only the retaliation claim was at issue on appeal. In order to establish a retaliation claim under Title VII, a plaintiff must demonstrate that:
On May 28, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer and against a former employee on her Title VII employment discrimination and retaliation claims. Vesey v. Envoy Air, Inc. d/b/a American Eagle Airlines, Inc., No. 20-1606 (7th Cir. May 28, 2021). The plaintiff, an airline agent, was terminated, according to the airline, after she abused her travel privileges. She filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that she was harassed because of her race and terminated in retaliation for reporting the harassment.