On August 18, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of a defendant-employer in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that she was fired because of her gender, female, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), and in retaliation for taking a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), in violation of the FMLA. Mourning v. Ternes Packaging, Indiana, Inc., No. 16-1650 (7th Cir. 8/18/2017). The employer granted the employee's request for FMLA leave to undergo medical treatment. While she was on medical leave, a group of her subordinate employees submitted an internal complaint about her to management. The employer fired the employee after she returned from her FMLA leave for performance-based reasons relating to the complaint against her. She was replaced by another female.
Employment Law Chicago Blog
On August 15, 2017, the 7th Circuit rejected a company's challenge to the legal authority of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") to continue an enforcement action after issuing a notice of right-to-sue letter and subsequent resolution of the underlying charges of discrimination in a private lawsuit. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, No. 15-3452 (7th Cir. 8/15/2017). The EEOC petitioned the district court to enforce its subpoena for the defendant's employment records related to the charges. The 7th Circuit stated that the U.S. Supreme Court and the 7th Circuit have recognized the EEOC's broad role in promoting the public interest by preventing employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"), including its independent authority to investigate charges of discrimination, especially company-wide pattern and practice of discrimination cases. Thus, the 7th Circuit agreed with the district court that neither the issuance of the right-to-sue letter nor the entry of judgment in a lawsuit filed by the charging parties bars the EEOC from continuing its own investigation.
On August 14, 2017, the 7th Circuit reversed the district court's order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant employer in a federal lawsuit filed by a Chicago Public High School maintenance supervisor, in which he alleged that he was given an unsatisfactory rating that resulted in the loss of his employment, because of his age and in retaliation for his prior age discrimination lawsuit against the Board, of which he had informed his supervisor before she gave him the negative rating. Owens v. Chicago Board of Education, No. 16-3607 (7th Cir. 8/14/2017) The plaintiff alleged that he informed his supervisor that he had an age discrimination lawsuit pending against the Board, and that she then replied 'do you think you're going to keep your job working for the Chicago Public Schools and you're filing a lawsuit?'.
On August 8, 2017, the 7th Circuit reversed an order of summary judgment in a Title VII race discrimination lawsuit filed by an African-American police officer. McKinney v. Office of the Sheriff of Whitley County, No. 16-4131 (7th Cir. 8/8/2017). The plaintiff was the first black police officer ever in Whitley County, Indiana. He was fired nine months after he was hired. He sued for race discrimination. The 7th Circuit stated that his evidence supports a strong case of race discrimination. The expanding and shifting nature of the defendant's proffered reasons for the termination of the plaintiff's employment were the kiss of death for the defendant in this employment discrimination lawsuit.
On August 7, 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, held that a former branch sales manager did not violate the noncompetition covenants contained in his employment contract with his former employer when he transmitted LinkedIn invitations to its employees. Bankers Life and Casualty Company v. American Senior Benefits, LLC, et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 160687 (8/7/2017). The former employer sued for breach of the noncompetition agreement. It alleged that the former employee breached the agreement by attempting to solicit and recruit its employees for his new employer, a competitor, through LinkedIn requests to induce them to sever their employment with the plaintiff and join the competitor. The noncompetition provision stated that during the term of his employment contract and for 24 months thereafter, he was prohibited from inducing or attempting to induce any employee to sever his or her employment relationship or sell insurance for any competitor.
On August 2, 2017, the 7th Circuit reversed an order of summary judgment in a sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit that was filed in federal court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). Nischan v. Stratosphere Quality, LLC et al., No. 16-3464 (7th Cir. 8/2/2017). The plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to unlawful sexual harassment in her employment, and that she was fired in retaliation for filing a complaint about it. The 7th Circuit held that the plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to support her sexual harassment claim to survive summary judgment. The plaintiff alleged that a co-worker relentlessly sexually harassed her, including unwelcome sexual advances and sexual propositions as well as offensive, outrageous physical touchings of private areas of her body, and sexually offensive comments and questions. She also alleged that managerial level employees knew about the sexual harassment, but failed to do anything about it.
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