On August 25, 2017, the 7th Circuit affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a race discrimination lawsuit under the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”). Reed v. Freedom Mortgage Corporation, No. 16-3661 (7th Cir. 8/25/2017). The plaintiff, a broker liaison, had been given verbal and written warnings for violations of the defendant’s attendance policy, after which he committed further violations. He was subsequently selected for elimination in a reduction-in-force because of a history of attendance and disciplinary problems and lack of seniority. The remaining broker liaisons were eventually terminated, and the office was later closed.
The plaintiff sued the defendant for race-based employment discrimination under the IHRA, alleging that he was subjected to disparate treatment and terminated because of his race, African-American. Illinois courts apply the federal Title VII evidentiary framework to claims of discrimination under the IHRA. The plaintiff failed to identify any similarly-situated employee outside of his protected class who was treated more favorably than him by the defendant under similar circumstances. The white employees identified by the plaintiff were not valid comparators because they had more seniority and no disciplinary history. Therefore, the plaintiff could not establish disparate treatment and his claim failed as a matter of law.