On February 12, 2021, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a federal lawsuit under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") alleging FMLA interference and retaliation. Hickey v. Protective Life Corporation, No. 20-1076 (7th Cir. 2/12/2021). The plaintiff brought his lawsuit under the FMLA alleging that his former employer had interfered with the exercise of his FMLA rights and had retaliated against him for exercising those rights. The district court held that he could not succeed on his FMLA interference claim because he could not prove that he had suffered any monetary damages as a result of the alleged interference or was otherwise entitled to equitable relief. The 7th Circuit concluded that the plaintiff had no cognizable claim for FMLA interference in the absence of any evidence that he suffered harm for which the FMLA provides a monetary or equitable remedy.
Employment Law Chicago Blog
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.
Whether a non-competition or non-solicitation agreement is valid and enforceable under Illinois law depends upon the specific terms of the agreement, as well as the unique facts and circumstances surrounding the agreement, employment, separation of employment, and post-employment employee conduct.
The first question is whether adequate consideration exists to support a restrictive covenant.
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.
On February 4, 2021, the 7th Circuit reversed a district court's order dismissing a USERRA lawsuit. White v. United Airlines, Inc., No. 19-2546 (7th Cir. Feb. 4, 2021). In 1994, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employee and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"), with the goal of prohibiting civilian employers from discriminating against employees because of their military service. 38 U.S.C. § 4301(a). The question in this case was whether USERRA’s mandate that military leave be given the same “rights and benefits” as comparable, nonmilitary leave requires an employer to provide paid military leave to the same extent that it provides paid leave for other absences. The 7th Circuit held that paid leave falls within the set of “rights and benefits” defined by USERRA and, therefore, employers are required to provide paid military leave under USERRA to the same extent that employers provide paid leave for non-military absences such as paid sick leave and the like. This was a question of first impression for the 7th Circuit.
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.