Plaintiff filed pro se (without an attorney) her second amended complaint alleging that she was fired as a bus driver in violation of Title VII, Section 1981, and Section 1983. Gonzales-Koeneke v. West, No. 14-2619 (7th Cir. July 1, 2015). The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint and the District Court granted it.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed. It noted that the District Court identified certain deficiencies in plaintiff's second-amended complaint, and plaintiff failed to indicate either in her post-trial motion or on appeal how any proposed third-amended complaint would cure those deficiencies. The Court rejected plaintiff's contention that she was entitled to file third-amended complaint because counsel - who had assisted her in drafting original complaint - was in process of "getting up to speed" on her case. 

Bonus structure, compensation plan
Employee sued alleging that his employer breached terms of his compensation plan by improperly paying his commission on a particular sale (defendant based the commission on the employee's 2006 incentive plan instead of the 2005 plan). Lawson v. Sun Microsystems, Inc., Nos. 13-1502 & 13-1503 (7th Cir., June 30, 2015). The employer moved for judgment notwithstanding verdict. The District court denied the motion. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded.

The Seventh Circuit noted that while the employee claimed that he was entitled to a larger commission under terms of 2005 incentive plan, record showed that employee did not close deal with client until March 2006. Furthermore, the  2005 plan had a December 25, 2005 deadline in order to qualify for commission under 2005 incentive plan. Thus, the Seventh Circuit rejected the employee's contention that 2005 plan remained effective until sometime in 2006 when 2006 plan became effective.

Non-compete or non-solicitaiton restrictive covenants
Salesman McInnis worked at a motorcycle dealership and resigned from his sales role after 18 months. McInnis v. OAG Motorcycle Ventures, Inc., 2015 IL App (1st) 130097 (June 25, 2015, corrected July 3, 2015). McInnis then filed a declaratory judgment action in state court, seeking to declare the restrictive covenant between himself and the dealership unenforceable. The Circuit Court declared the contract unenforceable. The Appellate Court affirmed.

The Appellate Court found that the employer failed to show the existence of any consideration beyond McInnis' employment sufficient to qualify as additional consideration. As the employment agreement was not supported by adequate consideration, the restrictive covenant was unenforceable against McInnis.

Caucasian employee sued, alleging that the City of Milwaukee fired him from police officer position because of his race in violation of Title VII. Gonzales v. City of Milwaukee, No. 14-2984 (7th Cir., June 26, 2015). In discovery, the employee moved to compel the City to produce results of "climate survey" that plaintiff had alleged contained evidence of pattern of discriminatory conduct towards non-African-American police officers. The District Court denied plaintiff's motion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit noted that Plaintiff's request for the document was made after deadline for making such requests, and plaintiff failed to show how he was prejudiced by District Court's denial where plaintiff failed to avail himself of subsequent opportunity to take depositions to find out about specific relevance of said survey to his discrimination claim. 

Driving a Bus, Essential Job Duty
Plaintiff used under the ADA, alleging that the defendant fired him because of his disability. Shell v. Smith, No. 14-2958 (7th Cir., June 15, 2015). The defendant claimed he was fired because of his inability to obtain CDL license. The District Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit reversed.

The Seventh Circuit held that the record contained a question of fact as to whether driving a bus was an essential job duty of plaintiff's position, even though job description required plaintiff to obtain CDL license. This was because: (1) driving a bus on public roads was not part of the plaintiff's regular duties during prior 12 years of his tenure in the position; (2) defendant failed to present any evidence that reassignment of the bus driving bus duty had an adverse impact on defendant's business; and (3) the record was silent as to how often a mechanic's helper might be required to drive bus.

The Seventh Circuit noted, however, that that defendant might prevail if it could show that it had previously gone beyond dictates of ADA by restructuring plaintiff's job so as to not require that he drive buses, but only if defendant could show that driving buses was essential duty.

Police and 1983
Police officer sued under Section 1983 alleging that he was fired in retaliation for his protected speech during an incident in which he confronted protesters. Lalowski v. City of Des Plaines, No. 12-3604 (7th Cir. June 17, 2015). The District Court granted the City's motion for summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part.

The Seventh Circuit noted that the record showed that the City had received a report that the officer used harsh and profane language when questioning the protesters' use of signs. The Seventh Circuit held that under Pickering test, none of the officer's statements were protected under First Amendment as they: (1) had potential to create problems in maintaining discipline in police force; (2) had potential for disruption within police force; (3) conflicted with officer's responsibility of fostering trust and respect with public; and (4) were unjustified in terms of manner in which they were uttered.

The Seventh Circuit also held, however, that the District Court erred in granting defendant's motion for summary judgment with respect to the officer's claim for administrative review of his termination, as the officer had never been given opportunity to brief that claim. Thus, the Seventh Circuit vacated that claim and remanded it for further proceedings.

Police Department Evidence Room
Employee Miller sued his employer for giving him an undesirable job assignment and failing to promote him because of his race. The County moved for summary judgment, the District Court granted it, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. Miller v. St. Joseph County, Ind., No. 14-2989 (7th Cir., June 9, 2015).

The Seventh Circuit held that Miller failed to present any evidence that his race played factor in the denial of his promotions. Furthermore, the selected candidates had better qualifications in terms greater job experience. In addition, the undesirable assignment (supervising the evidence/property room) was only for a short time, and Miller was then returned to his prior position. Thus, Miller could not meet his burden.

Needs Improvement Performance Evaluation. Employment Law Illinois.
Plaintiff sued under Title VII alleging that Caterpillar gave him a poor performance evaluation because of his race and in retaliation for complaining of race discrimination, which resulted a reduced bonus. Mintz v. Caterpillar, Inc., No. 14-1881 (June 5, 2015). The employer moved for summary judgment. The District Court granted it. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit held that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence of race-based or retaliatory comments from his supervisors, and record otherwise showed that plaintiff was not meeting defendant's legitimate expectations with respect to addressing both variance reports and engineering change orders.

The fact that the plaintiff performed adequately in other areas of his job was irrelevant where plaintiff could produce no evidence that defendant tolerated deficiencies (in similar scope) in areas of poor performance cited by defendant.

Gay marriage
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. Obergefell v. Hodges (June 26, 2015).

In the underlying suit, James Obergefell sued when Ohio refused to recognize his marriage to John Arthur, who died in 2013. 

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, joined by Justices  Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Justice Kennedy wrote, "No longer may this liberty be denied.” He concluded, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage: “. . . by all means celebrate today’s decision. . . But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.” Also in dissent, Justice Scalia mocked the language of Justice Kennedy's majority opinion, “Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.”

Employee, a physician, sued his former employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after it fired him because its evaluator opined that his short-term memory issues made him unfit for duty. Stern v. St. Anthony's Health Center, No. 14-2400 (June 4, 2015). The District Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit agreed with the plaintiff that employer had never engaged in the required interactive process to determine whether there were any appropriate accommodations for the plaintiff, even though the defendant's staff talked amongst themselves about potential accommodations. Despite that, the plaintiff could not prevail on his ADA claim because he failed to show that he could have performed his job with or without accommodations.

The Seventh Circuit noted that the defendant's duty to accommodate did not require it to remove of any of his essential job duties. Furthermore, the plaintiff's physician only stated that it was "possible" that plaintiff could perform his job under certain proposed accommodations, which was insufficient evidence that the plaintiff could actually perform his job, as the physician's suggested accommodations were untested.