Employment Law Chicago Blog

  • 7th Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment on Title VII Race and National Origin Discrimination Claims

    On February 22, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in a Title VII race and national origin discrimination lawsuit.  Silva v. State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections, et al., No. 18-2561 (7th Cir. Feb. 22, 2019).  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of the employee's race, sex, religion, color, or national origin.  The plaintiff claimed that his employer terminated his employment because of his race and national origin, in violation of Title VII.  As evidence of discrimination, the plaintiff raised disparate discipline and pretext.

  • Seventh Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer on Illinois Common Law Retaliatory Discharge Claim

    On February 20, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer on an Illinois common law retaliatory discharge claim.  Walker v. Ingersoll Cutting Tool Company, No. 18-2673 (7th Cir. Feb. 20, 2019).  The employer discharged the employee after he was involved in a physical altercation with another employee.  He sued the employer, alleging race discrimination under Title VII and retaliatory discharge under Illinois law.  The district court granted summary judgment for the employer on all claims.  On appeal, the plaintiff abandoned his Title VII racial discrimination claim.  The retaliatory discharge claim failed for lack of evidence of a causal connection between any protected activity and the plaintiff's discharge.

  • 7th Circuit Restates the Legal Standard for Workplace Harassment

    On February 20, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of an employer in a Title VII racial harassment lawsuit, in which the employee's immediate supervisor made racial epithets directly to the employee.  Gates v. Board of Education Of The City of Chicago, No. 17-3143 (7th Cir. Feb. 20, 2019).  The plaintiff's supervisor used the N-word twice and threatened to write up his "black ass."  The district court applied the wrong legal standard for hostile work environment claims, erroneously stating that "the workplace that is actionable is one that is hellish."  However, "[h]ellish is not the standard a plaintiff must satisfy to prevail on a hostile work environment claim."

  • 7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Employer on Title VII Race and National Origin Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

    On January 29, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in a lawsuit alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"), in which the plaintiff-employee claimed that the employer failed to promote, disciplined, and demoted him because of his race and national origin, and in retaliation for his previous internal complaints of employment discrimination and workplace harassment.  Cervantes v. Ardagh Group, No. 17-3536 (7th Cir. Jan. 29, 2019).  His discrimination claims failed because he did not exhaust his administrative remedies.  His retaliation claim failed because he did not engage in protected activity, and there was no evidence of any causal connection between any protected activity and the adverse employment actions.

  • 7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on ADA Disability Discrimination, Failure to Accommodate, and Retaliation Claims

    On January 25, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a lawsuit filed in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").  Scheidler v. State of Indiana, No. 17-2543 (7th Cir. Jan. 25, 2019).  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability and terminated her employment because of her disability, in violation of the ADA.  She also alleged that her employment was terminated in retaliation for opposing disability discrimination and sex discrimination, in violation of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII").  The ADA prohibits certain types of disability discrimination.  The ADA provides that "[N]o covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment."

  • 7th Circuit Holds that ADEA Protections Against Disparate Impact Age Discrimination Do Not Extend to Outside Job Applicants

    On January 23, 2019, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the protections against disparate impact age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") do not extend to outside job applicants.  Kleber v. Carefusion Corp., No. 17-1206 (7th Cir. Jan. 23, 2019).  This age discrimination case was filed by a 58-year-old attorney who applied for and was denied a position as an in-house attorney, which was given to a 29-year-old applicant.  The job description required 3-7 years, but no more than 7 years, of legal experience.  Section 4(a)(2) of the ADEA makes it unlawful for an employer to "limit, segregate or classify employees based on age" in such a way that results in an adverse effect on their "status as an employee."  The plain statutory language of the ADEA warrants the conclusion that its protections against disparate impact age discrimination are limited to employees.

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