Title VII (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended)

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.

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 Reverses Summary Judgment in Pay Discrimination Lawsuit

On January 5, 2021, in its first employment law decision of 2021, the 7th Circuit reversed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer-defendant in a sex discrimination and equal pay lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Equal Pay Act ("EPA").  Kellogg v. Ball State University, No. 20-1406 (7th Cir. 1/5/2021).  The decision turned on a single statement that the Director made to the plaintiff when he hired her, that she "didn't need any more starting salary because he knew her husband worked."  The 7th Circuit found that this statement is "evidence of unequivocal discrimination."  The statement contradicted the defendant's proffered explanations for the pay disparity, and put them into dispute.  This was so even though the statement was made long ago and well outside of the statute of limitations, because it affected paychecks that the plaintiff received within the statute of limitations.  Thus, the 7th Circuit held that the defendant blatantly discriminated against the plaintiff by telling her that, because her husband worked, she did not need any more starting pay.  "Such clear discrimination calls the sincerity of the defendant's rationales into question."

Employers may Require Employees to get the COVID-19 Vaccination

According to recently published EEOC Guidance (summarized below), the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations raises employment law questions under the ADA, GINA, and Title VII.  These laws do not prohibit employers from requiring their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or even administering the vaccine to their employees themselves, except under certain circumstances.  Pre-vaccination medical screening of employees, however, raises a whole host of employment law concerns, of which employers should familiarize themselves.

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.

7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Defendants in Title VII Lawsuit on Jurisdictional Grounds

On October 21, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a Title VII employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, on the ground that the company for which the plaintiff worked had fewer than fifteen employees and, therefore, was not an "employer" subject to Title VII.  Prince v. Appleton Auto, LLC, et al., No. 20-1106 (7th Cir. Oct. 21, 2020).  The defendant company is a member of a network of affiliated but corporately distinct used-car dealerships in Wisconsin.  The plaintiff claimed that his employment termination resulted from unlawful discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII").  The plaintiff argued that the court should aggregate the number of employees from the other dealerships to meet the jurisdictional requirement of 15 employees.  The 7th Circuit concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the plaintiff's theory that the court should pierce the corporate veil of the dealership network to aggregate the number of employees so that Title VII would apply.

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 Affirms Jury Verdict in Favor of Plaintiff in Title VII Disparate Discipline Lawsuit

On August 11, 2020, the 7th Circuit affirmed a jury verdict in favor of a plaintiff, a terminated employee who claimed that he was fired because of his race, African-American, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII").  Morris v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 19-2808 & 19-2913 (7th Cir. Aug. 11, 2020).  The crux of his employment discrimination lawsuit was disparate discipline--that he was disciplined more harshly than similarly situated non-African-American employees who committed the same or similar violations of the same company policy.  Specifically, he claimed that he was subjected to a formal disciplinary process that culminated in his termination, while non-African-American employees were given a more lenient informal disciplinary process that practically guaranteed that they would not be terminated.

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