Police
The City of Des Plaines fired Police Officer Bueno after investigating allegations that he used unnecessary or excessive force against arrestees and failed to report it. City of Des Plaines v. Metropolitan Alliance of Police Chapter No. 240, 2015 Ill. App. (1st) 140957 (March 31, 2015). The Union, representing Bueno, submitted his grievance to arbitration. The arbitrator concluded that Bueno had violated certain General Orders, but found that his termination was not appropriate based on due process concerns - namely City's delay in investigating and department's condoning conduct. 

The City filed a motion to vacate the arbitration award as it violated public policy. The circuit court agreed with the City but also denied the Union's motion to remand to the arbitrator for additional findings concerning Bueno's likelihood of engaging in the same misconduct following reinstatement. The Union appealed.

The Appellate Court reversed the circuit court's judgment and remand the matter for further proceedings.  It held that 
the arbitrator's award was incomplete, as it did not include any findings from which to infer that the arbitrator found Bueno was unlikely to reengage in offending conduct upon his reinstatement, which is necessary to fully assess public policy implications of reemployment.

 
 
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Plaintiff, a registered nurse, sued her employer for retaliating against her based on her refusal to follow her supervisor's instructions to falsify residents' medication administration records in violation of the Whistleblower Act. Young v. Alden Gardens of Waterford, LLC, 2015 Ill. App (1st) 131887 (March 31, 2015). The jury found that the long-term care facility was liable and the Circuit Court awarded attorney's fees to the Plaintiff.

The Appellate Court found that the award of attorney's fees was within the Circuit Court's discretion and not contrary to manifest weight of evidence. The Appellate Court further held that evidentiary hearings are not required, as a matter of course, on fee petitions, but only where other party's response raises issue of fact that cannot be resolved without hearing further evidence.

 
 
Prescription drugs. Image from Wikipedia, Created by en:User:Sponge
Plaintiff was deputy sheriff for 32 years, and was randomly selected for drug testing. Walker v. Dart, 2015 Ill. App. (1st) 140087 (March 27, 2015). He tested positive for a controlled substance, but provided prescriptions from 1995 and 2000 to explain the result. 

The Merit Board found that Plaintiff’s prescriptions were not valid prescriptions, and that use of them was abuse of prescription. Therefore, the Merit Board fired Plaintiff for violating the Sheriff's Drug Free Work Place policy. 

On appeal the the Illinois Appellate Court, the court noted that the policy did not prohibit the use of prescription medication beyond a certain date. Thus, it reversed, holding that the Sheriff cannot terminate employees for violating unwritten policies.


 
 
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Seal
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) addressed the question of whether the Board should order the conditional reinstatement of employees who, at the time they were unlawfully discharged by Respondent, lacked proper documentation to work in the United States. Mezonos Maven Bakery, Inc. and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, 29-CA-025476 (March 27, 2015).

The NLRB affirmed that Hoffman Plastic precludes a backpay award in such a situation, but noted that the Hoffman Plastic decision is silent as to reinstatement. The NLRB held that conditional reinstatement remains an appropriate remedy where undocumented workers are fired in violation of the Act.

 
 
Pregnant Woman
Employee Young was pregnant and requested light duty work.  Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., No. 12-1226 (March 25, 2015). Her employer, defendant UPS, denied her light duty for her pregnancy lifting restriction. Young brought suit against UPS for unlawfully refusing to accommodate her pregnancy-related lifting restriction. Young also alleged that UPS had, pursuant to its internal policies, accommodated several individuals whose disabilities created work restrictions similar to hers. UPS moved for summary judgement, which the District Court granted and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. 

The Supreme Court  vacated and the case and remanded. It held that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) requires that employers provide similar accommodations as they do to any other persons who are similar in their ability or inability to work.  This holding is constant with the EEOC's guidelines.

The Supreme Court went on the explain that a pregnant worker can make a prima facie case of disparate treatment under McDonnell Douglas by showing that she (1) belongs to the protected class, (2) that she requested accommodation, (3) that the employer did not accommodate her, and (4) that the employer did accommodate others similarly situated in their ability to work.  As the record contained sufficient evidence, there was a genuine dispute as to whether UPS provided more favorable treatment to at least some employees whose situation could not reasonably be distinguished from Young's.

 
 
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Plaintiff McCleary filed a complaint against his former employer for breach of contract, violation of Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA), and unjust enrichment. McCleary v. Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, 2015 Ill. App. 141287 (March 17, 2015, opinion corrected March 23, 2015). 

Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-615, arguing that it had the full discretion to deny plaintiff a bonus and, thus, plaintiff can never seek a legal remedy for an abuse of that discretion, among other things. 

The Circuit Court agreed with the Defendant and found that the language of the Plan gave the defendant the "absolute discretion to determine whether a bonus should be awarded and, if so, the amount, ultimately undermines the claim here on all counts." Thus, the Circuit Court dismissed the complaint.

However, the Appellate Court reversed, holding that the employer's discretion to award bonuses under "Group Bonus Plan" did not foreclose Plaintiff from seeking remedy based on breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing for abuse of that discretion.

 
 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Judge Dow entered a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Chicago Transit Authority from disciplining or threatening to discipline employees for passing out fliers supporting Garcia and opposing Mayor Emanuel. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241 & ATU Local 308 v. Chicago Transit Authority, 2015-cv-02776 (April 3, 2015).

ATU Locals 241 and 308 asked for the order, arguing that the CTA allowed campaigning in break rooms for years and only prohibited the practice after the union endorsed Garcia, thus the CTA infringed on workers' First Amendment rights regarding freedom of speech.

The CTA denied the Union's claim, saying Illinois' ethics and political rights laws ban any political activities at the workplace, including break rooms.

While the temporary restraining order was granted, questions still remain as to Illinois law distinctions based on whether the worker is "at work or on duty" or not.


 
 
Stethoscope
Plaintiff Simpson brought a suit under Title VII alleging that defendant hospital denied his application for medical staff privileges because of his race. The hospital moved for summary judgment. The District Court granted the motion.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Simpson v. Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, Inc., No. 14-2269 (March 11, 2015).

The hospital explained that decision not to award Simpson staff privileges was based on: (1) concerns over Simpson's need to take the medical license exam; (2) his placement on academic probation while in residency; (3) the existence of two uninsured medical malpractice claims; and (4) a  negative reference given by one of Simpson's former employers regarding his behavior. 

While plaintiff offered explanations for the concerns, he failed to present evidence that either: (a) that the decision was not based on those concerns, or (b) that the decision makers did not honestly believe the concerns about his application. Thus, he could not meet his burden.

The fact that Simpson met all of the objective qualifications for obtaining medical staff privileges did not require different result. 

 
 
President Obama
Plaintiff Nelson brought a Section 1983 action alleging that the defendant fired her from her position in County Auditor’s office in retaliation for her political support of Barack Obama. After the trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant.  Nelson appealed, challenging the sufficiency of evidence supporting the jury’s verdict. Nelson v. Katona, No. 13-1652 (7th Cir. Feb. 25, 2015).

The Seventh Circuit noted that Nelson failed to move for a judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a) at any point before the case was submitted to the jury and she also did not make any motion pursuant to Rule 50(b) or Rule 59 after the jury returned its verdict, as required under Rule 50(b). Her failure to comply with Rule 50(b) foreclosed any challenge to sufficiency of evidence on appeal.  

Thus, the Seventh Circuit could not consider Plaintiff's appeal, affirming the jury’s verdict.

 
 
Plaintiff Love brought a suit for Title VII race discrimination, alleging that the defendant played and operative role in his termination (he was an employee of a subcontractor), after he and another individual were involved in workplace altercation. The District Court granted defendant's motion summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Love v. J.P. Cullen & Sons, Inc., No. 13-3291 (March 9, 2015).

The Seventh Circuit applied the five-factor test, developed in Knight v. United Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 950 F.2d at 378–79. Those factors are: "(1) the extent of the employer’s control and supervision over the employee; (2) the kind of occupation and nature of skill required, including whether skills were acquired on the job; (3) the employer’s responsibility for the costs of operation; (4) the method and form of payment and benefits; and (5) the length of the job commitment." Id.

The Seventh Circuit found that all of those factors favored finding that subcontractor was true employer, as the record showed that plaintiff received supervision from the subcontractor at the worksite, that the subcontractor issued all paychecks and W-2s, among other things.  

The Seventh Circuit held that the fact that the defendant insisted that plaintiff be removed from worksite or that subcontractor had no other job to place plaintiff did not require different result.