The Illinois Personnel Record Review Act gives an employee with a right to review, copy and correct their personnel records, and prohibits employers from gathering and using particular types of information about employees.
The Act applies to employers who employ five or more people (excluding immediate family members). The Act defines “employee” as someone who is currently employed, is subject to recall after a layoff or leave of absence, or was terminated within a year of the request.
Under the Act, “personnel documents” are records that employers have used or intend to use to determine an employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, compensation, discipline, or termination. However, with limited exceptions, employers may not gather or keep records of employees’ non-employment activities.
The Act does not require that employers maintain personnel records, but employers who do must permit employees to inspect their personnel documents at least twice each calendar year at reasonable intervals upon request. Employers must allow the inspections within seven working days after an employee makes a request. In some situations, the employer has an additional seven days in which to allow the inspection.
The inspection must take place at or near the employee’s place of employment during working hours unless a different location or time is more convenient for the employee. The employee may photocopy, but may not remove, any documents. If the employee cannot review the records where they are kept, the employer must mail a copy of the records to the employee. Either way, the employer may charge the employee for the actual photocopy costs.
If an employee disagrees with information contained within his or her personnel file, the employee may submit a written statement explaining the employee’s position (if the employer and employee cannot mutually agree on a correction). The employer must attach the employee’s explanation to the disputed part of the personnel record and must include that explanation whenever that part is released to a third party.
Employers may not release disciplinary records that are more than four years old to third parties. Employers who divulge disciplinary information that is less than four years old must immediately notify the employee in writing unless the employee waived notice. Neither of these requirements applies when: (1) the information is subpoenaed, (2) the information is requested by a governmental agency that is investigating (a) a claim by an employee or (b) a criminal investigation.
Employees may also sue their employers for violations of the Act.
For the whole act, see http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2395&ChapterID=68
As a past University of Chicago Reunion Chair, Antoinette Choate, A.B. 2001, was invited to sit on a panel at the University of Chicago's Volunteer Caucus. On October 22, 2011, her panel presented information on "Reunion Best Practices: Connecting Old Friends with New Ideas." The panel of past reunion chairs shared tips and tricks for planning a successful reunion. Those new to the reunion experience learned information on how to get involved in reconnecting with classmates through a reunion committee.
Shaffer v. American Medical Association, No. 10-2117 (October 18, 2011). The Seventh Circuit panel of Judges Kanne, Williams and Tinder reversed and remanded a District Court’s (Judge St. Eve) decision, which had granted an employer’s motion for summary judgment on October 18, 2011. Employee Shaffer brought his lawsuit for an Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) violation alleging that his employer terminated him in retaliation for requesting FMLA leave.While the American Medical Association (AMA) contended that operational needs motivated its termination of Shaffer, the Seventh Circuit held that the record contained sufficient evidence of a triable issue with respect to reason for Shaffer’s termination given that the record contained evidence that: (1) employer's management had originally identified another co-worker for termination, but then selected Shaffer shortly after he announced intention to take FMLA leave; (2) an AMA manager backdated a memo to make it appear that termination decision was not influenced by leave request; and (3) the AMA gave inconsistent explanations regarding Shaffer’s job performance as factor in termination decision. The Seventh Circuit noted, “the judge’s function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Read the 7th Circuit's decision here: http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/C90NGSYQ.pdf
October 11, 2011, the Seventh Circuit issued its opinion in Greene v. Doruff et al. In that case, the plaintiff, Greene, worked as a clerk in the prison library where he was in inmate. Doruff accused Greene of copying and highlighting an opinion during working hours and taking an opinion without checking it out. Greene proved that he in fact checked it out properly. However, the photocopy issue triggered a disciplinary hearing and the hearing officer ordered Greene be confined to his cell for 14 days and that the copies be destroyed. Greene filed a suit claiming he had been punished for exercising his freedom of speech. The District Court granted summary judgment for the defendants because Greene failed to establish that the “challenged action would not have occurred but for the constitutionally protected conduct.”
The Seventh Circuit applied the Mt. Healthy “motivating factor” to first amendment claims and clarifies that Gross did not overturn Mt. Healthy. Therefore, a plaintiff need only show “that a violation of his First Amendment rights was a ‘motivating factor’ of the harm he is complaining of, and that if he shows this the burden shifts to the defendant to show that the harm would have occurred anyway—that is, even if there hadn’t been a violation of the First Amendment—and thus that the violation had not been a ‘but for’ cause of the harm for which he is seeking redress.”
Read the opinion here: http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/C20QTAAE.pdf
On Monday, October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in many cases as it started the 2011-2012 term. The entire list can be found at http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/100311zor.pdf. Among those denied appeals were the following employment -related cases:
(1) Spencer v. World Vision, Inc., (No. 10-1316). The 9th Circuit had held that a faith-based humanitarian organization falls within the exemption in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for religious organizations, thus, those organizations are exempt from the prohibition against religious discrimination in hiring. The case was brought by World Vision Inc. employees who were fired for their beliefs. The court rejected the employees' appeal which sought to overturn the Ninth Circuit's decision as the nonprofit was neither owned by nor affiliated with a formally religious entity.
(2) Ellis, John, et al. v. DHL Express Inc. (USA), et al. Two former DHL Express Inc. employees sought review of the dismissal of a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act class action and clarification determining what constitutes a voluntary departure under the act based on a split in the 7th and 9th Circuits. As DHL Express Inc. was allowed to count employees who elected to take severance packages as voluntary departures when DHL closed five Chicago-area facilities, WARN Act was not triggered and DHL Express Inc. was excused from WARN Act notice obligations.
Today, October 5, 2011, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments that may change what role courts can play in the hiring and firing decisions of religious institutions. The question before the Court is whether the ministerial exception to employment law litigation applies to an employee of a religious organization whose job duties include secular and religious activities in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The case is based on an employment discrimination and retaliation action brought by a teacher at a religious school claiming violations of the ADA. The employer, Hosanna-Tabor, operates a church and school. It hired the employee as a “called” teacher to teach both secular and religious classes. “Called” teachers are voted into the position by the church congregation and are required to complete various religious classes, after which they are recognized as “commissioned ministers.” While the employee was on disability leave, Hosanna-Tabor terminated her. The EEOC filed a claim against Hosanna-Tabor for wrongful termination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer based on the "ministerial exception." On appeal, the Sixth Circuit vacated that decision, applying a “primary duties test.” The 6th Circuit determined that the time the employee devoted each day to religious activity was nominal, so the ministerial exception did not apply to the employee and, therefore, the suit was not barred. EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor Church & School, 597 F.3d 769 (6th Cir. 2010). The 6th Cir. Opinion can be found here: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/10a0065p-06.pdf Appealing to the Supreme Court, the employer argued that the 6th Circuit’s test was improper - that the test should not compare time spent in secular and religious instruction because those minutes do not measure the importance of an individual’s religious functions and request a broader exception.