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.
Employment Law Chicago Blog
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.
On July 31, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed a jury award of $225,000 in damages to a terminated employee-plaintiff who sued his former employer for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Stragapede v. City of Evanston, Illinois, No. 16-1344 (7th Cir. 7/31/2017). The plaintiff worked in the City of Evanston Water Department for 14 years. After he suffered a traumatic brain injury at home, the City placed him on temporary leave of absence. When he was cleared to return to work, he resumed full-time employment, but just a few weeks later, the City again placed him on administrative leave and subsequently terminated his employment. In federal court, the plaintiff alleged that the City discriminated against him and terminated his employment because of his disability.
On July 26, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in an age discrimination lawsuit filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Carson, et al. v. Lake County Indiana, No. 16-3665 (7th Cir. 7/26/2017). A group of rehired retirees who were fired filed the lawsuit alleging that the County had discriminated against them on the basis of their age in violation of the ADEA. The 7th Circuit concluded that there was no evidence that the County engaged in unlawful age discrimination. The key criterion that distinguished the terminated employees from all other County employees was not their age but rather their impermissible participation in a group health insurance plan supplement while they worked part-time, which necessitated the termination of their employment.
On July 18, 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of an executive employee against his employer in the amount of $2,838,968 for his earned bonus and severance pay. Schultze v. ABN AMRO, Inc., et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 162140 (7/18/2017). The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging that the defendants violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (the "Act") by failing to pay him the proper amount of his earned bonus and severance pay. After trial, the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and ordered the defendants to pay him $2 million as an earned bonus and $375,000 as severance, plus 5% interest and attorneys' fees. On appeal, the defendants argued that the bonus was discretionary and that the plaintiff failed to execute a separation agreement and release that was a condition of receiving any severance.
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