Retaliation

What Is Required For An Employee To Prove Employment Discrimination?

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.

Illinois Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Retaliatory Discharge Lawsuit

On February 4, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of claims for retaliatory discharge and violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Protection Act.  Rehfield v. Diocese of Joliet, 2021 IL 125656 (Feb. 4, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that defendant unlawfully retaliated against her by terminating her for reporting a parent’s threatening conduct to police.  Plaintiff alleged that her employment termination violated Illinois public policy to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses.  She further alleged that defendant’s actions were likely to make other staff and faculty members reluctant to come forward to report potentially unlawful or criminal conduct.  Plaintiff also alleged that defendant’s actions violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act, which prohibits Illinois employers from retaliating against Illinois employees for disclosing information to a law enforcement agency, provided that the employee has reasonable cause to believe the information discloses a violation of a state or federal law, rule, or regulation.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Title VII Lawsuit

On January 19, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a Title VII employment discrimination lawsuit alleging wrongful termination on the basis of national origin, race, and religion, as well as unlawful retaliation.  Khungar v. Access Community Health Network, No. 20-1958 (Jan. 19, 2021).  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, and genetic information.  To defeat a summary judgment motion in a Title VII case, a plaintiff must raise factual disputes sufficient to support a reasonable finding of discrimination by a jury.  A plaintiff may prove employment discrimination with direct or circumstantial evidence under the direct or indirect burden-shifting method.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Title VII Lawsuit

On January 19, 2012, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a Title VII employment discrimination lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, and religion, as well as unlawful retaliation.  Khungar v. Access Community Health Network, No. 20-1958 (Jan. 19, 2021).  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, color, and genetic information.  To defeat a summary judgment motion in a Title VII case, a plaintiff must raise factual disputes sufficient to support a reasonable finding of discrimination by a jury.  A plaintiff may prove employment discrimination with direct or circumstantial evidence under the direct or indirect burden-shifting method.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Title VII and ADA Employment Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

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.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Failure-to-Accommodate Lawsuit

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.

Illinois Appellate Court Explains Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in the Employment Context

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.

Sexual-Orientation Discrimination Actionable under Title VII

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.

7th Circuit Explains Associational Disability Discrimination under the ADA

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.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer in Title VII Race Discrimination Lawsuit

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.

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