Employee sued under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging that defendant fired her because of her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as her military service.  Arroyo v. Volvo Group North America, LLC, No. 14-3618 (7th Cir. October 6, 2015). Defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting that she was fired based on a violation of the company attendance policy.  The District Court granted the motion for summary judgment.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed and reversed in part and remanded.

The Seventh Circuit held that a reasonable jury could infer that the motivation to fire the plaintiff was motivated in part by anti-military animosity towards her as
 her supervisors sent emails stating that they disliked burden that her multiple military leaves placed on the company. Additionally, her supervisors repeatedly discussed disciplining her and denied her rights such as travel time to which she was entitled.  Furthermore, the emails regarding her military leave often transitioned to a discussion about disciplining plaintiff under attendance policy for her tardiness, however, only one out of five other co-workers with similar attendance policy violations was actually fired.

The Seventh Circuit also held that a jury could find violation of ADA as internal emails from management discussed discipling plaintiff while she was in hospital and said the discussion also coincided with the onset and diagnosis of plaintiff's PTSD.

Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act
Plaintiff sued claiming that the Defendant was his employer and that it owed him commissions on contracts that Plaintiff procured on Defendant's behalf. Thomas v. Weatherguard Construction Company, Inc., 2015 Ill. App. (1st) 142785 (September 30, 2015). After a bench trial, the Circuit Court held that the Defendant was Plaintiff's employer and that he was the procuring cause of certain sales, thus, he was entitled to payment under the Wage Payment and Collection Act. The Appellate Court affirmed and remanded for the Circuit Court to determine Plaintiff's reasonable attorney's fees.

Defendant argued that Plaintiff wasn't an employee because the man who interviewed and purported hired Plaintiff, Farbaky, did not have any such authority. However, the Circuit Court held, and the Appellate Court agreed, that the Defendant had created the appearance that Farbaky had the authority to hire Plaintiff on Defendant's behalf (based on his uniform, business card, presence at Defendant's office, and other factors). Thus, the Circuit Court properly found that Farbaky and Plaintiff had agreed that Plaintiff was entitled to 20% of net profits on contracts Plaintiff secured, so that oral contract existed between parties.

Finally, the Appellate Court held that the 2011 amendment to Section 14 of Wage Payment Act that grants attorney fees was a procedural amendment, so it does not have a retroactive impact and thus may be applied retroactively.

Chess pieces race discrimination
Plaintiff sued his employer for violations of Title VII, alleging that the employer discriminated against him when it hired another person for a tenure-track teaching position. Plaintiff alleged that the decision-maker told members of the selection committee that he would not hire a white man if qualified minority candidate was available. Jahn v. Bd. of Trustees of Northern Illinois University, No. 14-2402 (7th Cir. September 23, 2015). The University moved for summary judgment and the District Court granted the motion.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit noted that the Plaintiff did not present any evidence that he was more qualified than the successful candidate and did not produce any evidence that criteria that selection committee used to select finalists for position was created by that decision-maker. Furthermore, the statement by the decision-maker that he would not hire white man if qualified minority candidate was available was not direct evidence of discrimination since selection committee, which did not include ultimate decision-maker, made decision not to include plaintiff as finalist.

Customer filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), claiming that she was denied  full and equal enjoyment of a public accommodation because of her race (a sales associate followed her during the entire time she was in the Respondent's clothing store). Windsor Clothing Store v. Castro, 2015 Ill. App. (1st) 142999 (September 23, 2015). The Respondent did not submit verified response to the charge, and Illinois Human Rights Commission entered default order against the Respondent. 

The Commission adopted the ALJ's recommendations and awarded $25,000 to the Charging Party for emotional distress damages.  The Commission further held that the Respondent failed to show that it acted with diligence when it failed to file a verified response, failed to show cause as to why it did not file that response, and failed to file request for review of default order, thus it showed deliberate disregard for IDHR's authority. The Commission  denied the untimely request to vacate default order.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed.

While not an employment claim, the message reads loud an clear: Respondents (including employers) need to take the IDHR seriously.

Plaintiff sued under Title VII, alleging that he was fired because of his race/nationality. Boutros v. Avis Rent A Car System, LLC, No. 14-1511 (7th Cir., September 23, 2015).  The defendant claimed to have fired the plaintiff for lodging a false claim that he had been injured on job. After trial, the plaintiff moved for a new trial and the District Court denied the request. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit held that the District Court did not err in admitting two out-of-court statements from a co-worker and a vendor representative, where those statements conflicted with plaintiff's version of his alleged injury, and where the decision-maker considered those statements prior to firing the plaintiff, since the statements were admissible under state-of-mind exception to hearsay rule. 
Additionally, both statements were relevant on issue as to whether defendant's proffered reason for plaintiff's termination was pre textual. 

The Seventh Circuit further found that the appeal was frivolous and issued rule to show cause directing plaintiff to show why he should not be subjected to Rule 38 sanctions.

Calendar equitable tolling
The plaintiff alleged that he was injured during his employment with the railway company pursuant to Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA). Klancir v. BNSF Railway Company, 2015 Ill. App. (1st) 143437 (September 10, 2015).

The plaintiff filed a voluntary nonsuit with regard to his first complaint, then filed a second complaint within one year of the voluntary nonsuit. The Court dismissed the plaintiff's second filed complaint.  The Appellate Court affirmed.

The Appellate Court held that the Illinois savings statute tolls statute of limitations only where statute of limitations is set by Illinois law. FELA limits time to commence action to 3 years from day cause of action accrued. The plaintiff failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he was justifiably misled into good-faith belief he could file his complaint within 1 year after voluntary dismissal, even though Court order stated that Plaintiff could refile within 1 year and that dismissal was without prejudice; thus, no equitable tolling applied.

The NLRB found that the employer committed unfair labor practices by firing employee because of his union activity and by making threatening statements to employees during meeting with employees. AutoNation, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., Nos. 14-2991 & 14-3361 Cons. (7th Cir., September 4, 2015). The Seventh Circuit held that the record contained sufficient evidence to support that finding.

The Seventh Circuit noted that the record contained a transcript of a meeting in which an official of the employer: (1) warned employees of possibility of losing benefits/wage rates if union were to negotiate on their behalf; and (2) made implied promise of wage increase to deter employees from supporting union. 

The fact that official did not directly threaten the employees or that the official relayed possible negative outcomes to unionization that had occurred in other cases did not require different result. 

In addition, the record contained sufficient circumstantial evidence that employer's anti-union views played role in the employee's termination, where: (1) one official from employer had previously received voicemail accusing the employee of pro-union activity and of having a driving infraction; (2) a supervisor, who had previously displayed hostility toward union, played consulting role in the employee's termination; and (3) the employer's explanation for the employee's termination (job abandonment) was not supported by record.

Clock Overtime
Plaintiff sued alleging that defendant failed to play plaintiff and co-workers in 25 branch banks overtime wages and discouraged them from reporting overtime work in violation of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Illinois Minimum Wage Law and Ill. Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA). Bell v. PNC Bank, National Ass'n, No. 14-3018 (7th Cir. August 31, 2015). Plaintiff moved for class certification. The District Court granted the motion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit held that while the defendant had offered evidence establishing that it paid overtime at every branch bank in the putative class and had policy of paying overtime, that evidence did not negate the evidence in the record that the defendant had denied compensation for overtime work on number of occasions and had granted overtime only following employee complaints. As such, the District Court could properly certify question as to whether defendant had informal policy requiring its employees to work off clock, where the plaintiff offered evidence that denial of overtime pay came from broad company policy, as opposed from individual low-level branch managers. 

The Seventh Circuit emphasized that the District Court need not resolve merits of the certified question prior to granting a motion for certification, and fact that the class members might require individualized relief did not preclude certification of class.

Police Officer
Police officer sued his former employer for violating Title VII when it fired him in retaliation for his testifying on behalf of African-American police officers in a race discrimination investigation. Hardin v. Marion County Sheriff's Dept., No. 14-1713 (7th Cir., August 25, 2015). The District Court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The Seventh Circuit held that the record showed that the officer was fired after conducting an extensive investigation into a prisoner complaint that someone had stolen $100 during his arrest. Further, the officer failed to show that defendant did not honestly believe results of its investigation, which, according to defendant, indicated that plaintiff, as arresting officer, was most likely responsible for the theft. 

The fact that the officer had been cleared of the theft accusation by a separate criminal investigation or that the officer was subjected to unfavorable schedule and work assignments after he gave a statement in race discrimination investigation did not require different result because: (1) the officer failed to show that individuals responsible for change in schedule or job assignments played any role in the decision to fire him; and (2) there was some evidence suggesting that the officer might have been responsible for the theft.

School bus
Plaintiff Preddie sued his former employer under the ADA, Title VII, and FMLA alleging that the school fired him from his teaching position because of his disability, race, and FMLA use. Preddie v. Bartholomew Cons. School Corp., No. 14-3125 (7th Cir. August 24, 2015). The school moved for summary judgment, which the District Court granted. The Seventh Circuit affirmed as to the ADA and Title VII claims, but reversed as to the FMLA claims.

The Seventh Circuit held that Preddie failed to show that he made any accommodation request and could not establish that he was "qualified individual" under the ADA, because his attendance problems precluded him from performing the essential functions of his job. Furthermore, Preddie could not establish an ADA retaliation claim as his periodic requests for time off to attend to his health issues did not qualify as "protected activity" under ADA. Finally, Preddie could not establish a Title VII race discrimination claim, where he could not show that (1) he had met the school's legitimate performance expectations, or (2) that the school treated other teachers with similar attendance problems in more favorable fashion. 

However, the Seventh Circuit held that the District Court erred in granting the school's motion for summary judgment on Preddie's FMLA claims where the school's stated reasons for its failure to renew Preddie's teaching contract were related to his absences that were caused by his FMLA-qualifying condition.