On December 27, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant terminated his employment because of his race, national origin, disability, and exercise of his right to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). Ennin v. CNH Industrial America, LLC, No. 17-2270 (7th Cir. 12/27/2017). The record indicated that the defendant terminated the plaintiff's employment before it had knowledge of his alleged disability or his FMLA leave; and there was no evidence that the defendant's proffered reasons for the termination were pretext for employment discrimination.
Title VII (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended)
On December 11, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in a sex discrimination lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that her former employer fired her on the basis of her gender, in violation of Title VII. Milligan-Grimstad v. Morgan Stanley, et al., No. 16-4224 (7th Cir. 12/11/2017). The 7th Circuit agreed with the district court, that the defendant terminated the plaintiff on the basis of her job performance. To survive a motion for summary judgment in a Title VII employment discrimination case, a plaintiff must present evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to conclude that the plaintiff's race, ethnicity, sex, religion or other proscribed factor caused the discharge. In this case, the plaintiff failed provide a sufficient evidentiary basis for a jury to conclude that her sex influenced the decision to terminate her employment.
On November 30, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff alleged that she was paid substantially less than her male colleague, despite taking on twice the responsibility, in violation of the Equal Pay Act ("EPA") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ("Title VII"). Lauderdale v. Illinois Department of Human Services, et al., No. 16-3830 (7th Cir. 11/30/2017). The EPA and Title VII both prohibit employers from paying an employee less based on sex. The 7th Circuit concluded that the pay discrepancy in this case was not based on sex.
On November 15, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a Title VII reverse race discrimination lawsuit filed by a civil servant against his former employer, the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County, Illinois. Golla v. Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County, Illinois, et al., No. 15-2524 (7th Cir. 11/15/2017). The plaintiff alleged that the defendant engaged in intentional reverse racial discrimination by paying an African-American co-worker a significantly higher salary than him, a Caucasian, even though they worked in the same department performing the same duties under essentially the same title.
On October 2, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment on a former employee's sexual harassment, retaliation and FMLA claims. King v. Ford Motor Company, No. 16-3391 (7th Cir. 10/2/2017). The plaintiff, who was an assembly line worker, claimed that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor. She was discharged after missing several weeks of work for medical reasons that her former employer claims she failed to properly document. In her federal lawsuit, she filed claims for sexual harassment, FMLA interference, and retaliation based on her complaints of sexual harassment and for taking FMLA leave. Since she failed to file suit within 90 days of receipt of her notice of right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, her Title VII sexual harassment claim was time-barred. Her FMLA interference and retaliation claims failed too, for substantive reasons.
On August 31, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer in a federal lawsuit in which the plaintiff, a tenured university professor, alleged that the university discriminated against him because of his race, retaliated against him for complaining about discrimination, denied him due process of law, defamed him, and breached an employment contract created by an employee handbook. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, et al., No. 16-1958 (7th Cir. 8/31/2017). The question on summary judgment is whether the defendants have shown that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. On appeal, the appellate court resolves all factual disputes and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. However, he is only entitled to the benefit of inferences supported by admissible evidence, not those supported only by speculation or conjecture.
On August 31, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of an employer in a Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit in which the former employee, a Human Resources Manager, alleged that her employment was terminated because of her sex, female, and in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment. Owens v. Old Wisconsin Sausage Company, Inc., No. 16-3875 (7th Cir. 8/31/2017). The plaintiff was the only female manager. Another manager commented to her that the employer tended to be a "boys' club." After the decision terminate her employment, the employer produced a memo that listed a myriad of performance-based and other reasons for her termination.
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.
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 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.