On August 2, 2016, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, affirmed the trial court’s judgment that the City of Chicago violated the Illinois Human Rights Act (the “Act”) by using the fact of an employee’s alleged arrest as the basis to alter the terms of her employment. Murillo v. City of Chicago, 2016 IL App (1st) 143002 (8/2/2016). The Act prohibits employers from using the fact of an arrest as a basis to discriminate in employment. The plaintiff, after working for the City for three years as a janitor, was required to submit to a background check to keep her job. The check revealed an alleged prior arrest, which had been dismissed for lack of probable cause. The City refused to give the plaintiff security clearance and ultimately terminated her employment. The appellate court rejected the City’s argument, that it permissibly used other information that indicated that the plaintiff engaged in the conduct for which she was allegedly arrested (and did not use the fact of the arrest itself), because the City failed to investigate the alleged arrest beyond the bare police reports.
The trial court also awarded the plaintiff attorneys’ fees in the amount of $183,796, litigation costs in the amount of $11,208, and prejudgment interest of 6% on her award of back pay and pension. The appellate court remanded the case to the trial court to determine, inter alia, the plaintiff’s additional attorneys’ fees and costs for defending the appeal.