An Illinois jury recently returned a large verdict in a reverse discrimination lawsuit against the Springfield Urban League, in which the plaintiff alleged that her employment was terminated on account of her race, white, and because she refused to participate in workplace religious activities. The plaintiff was awarded $46,718 in back pay and lost benefits, $4,403 in litigation costs, and $160,222 in attorneys’ fees. The plaintiff alleged that she was fired because she objected to prayer meetings at work organized by a supervisor, and alleged that members of the supervisor’s congregation who worked at the Urban League were given preferential treatment. She also alleged that African-Americans and members of the congregation were hired over more qualified job candidates. The Urban League, which disagrees with the verdict, has filed post-trial motions objecting to the verdict on various legal grounds, and is expected to file an appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Illinois Human Rights Act, prohibit adverse employment actions that are taken because of an employee’s race, even if the employee is a member of a majority. The costs and liabilities of employment discrimination litigation are steep. That’s one reason why most cases settle through negotiation or mediation.