Non-Solicitation/Non-Competition Agreement
Employer Scheffel filed an action against its former employee Heil to enforce a non-solicitation clause in the employment agreement.  As part of that action, Scheffel moved for a preliminary injunction.  

The District Court entered preliminary injunction in favor of Scheffel, a financial advising company, to enforce the non-solicitation clause in employment agreement with Heil, stopping him from "using or disclosing Scheffel's confidential information, restricting him from any direct or personal solicitation of Scheffel's clients or customers . . . , and ordering him to return . . . any an all clint information which he is not authorized to have."

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed.  Scheffel Financial Services, Inc. v. Heil, 2014 Ill. App. (5th) 130600 (August 22, 2014).  It held that the District Court properly found that evidence was sufficient to allow company to proceed on preliminary injunction. The injunction did not present undue hardship to Heil, as it did not preclude him from working, but only from soliciting Scheffel's clients and from using or disclosing any of Scheffel's confidential information. The District Court idd not abuse its discretion.

 
 
Plaintiff Council sued Village of Dolton claiming he was retaliatory fired in violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.  Council v. Village of Dolton (No. 13 C 93 August 22, 2014).  

In a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Village argued that Council's claims were barred because he had litigated (and lost) his claim for unemployment benefits all the way up to the Illinois Appellate Court as it found that he "voluntarily" separated when he failed to obtain a license.  

Judge Zagel agreed, but the Seventh Circuit, in an opinion written by Judge Posner, reversed, holding that it violated the plain language of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, which provides that unemployment claims shall have no preclusive effect in any other litigation.

More specifically, the Unemployment Insurance Act provides that “no finding, determination, decision, ruling or order (including any finding of fact, statement or conclusion made therein) issued pursuant to this Act shall constitute res judicata.” 820 ILCS 405/1900(B) (as amended in 1991). Further, the Illinois Appellate Court finding as to why Council lost his job was a ruling made pursuant to that Act.  Therefore, "[i]t squarely fits the list of determinations in section 1900(B) that shall not have preclusive effect."
 
 
Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Speech
Plaintiff Graber sued Sheriff Clarke and the County for violating his First Amendment rights to free speech and association under section 1983, claiming that he was suspended and "verbal[ly] assault[ed]" because he had complained behalf of his fellow union members about mandatory overtime. 

After the bench trial, the District Court found that Graber failed to establish a causal connection between the adverse acts and his protected speech. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Graber v. Clarke, No. 11-1038 (Aug. 18, 2014).


The Seventh Circuit held that Graber’s protests constituted protected speech because they were made in his role as union vice-president. However, Graber failed to show that his suspension was related to those protests because record showed that the suspension was based upon an unrelated incident and Graber admitted that "he was not disciplined for [his] conduct as a union official."

Similarly, verbal "assault" was related to a different separate incident in which Graber was insubordinate to his supervisor. 

 
 
Picture
Plaintiff Hansen sued his former employer, for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when it fired him for excessive absenteeism while he was trying to use FMLA leave. The District Court granted the employer's motion for summary judgment, but the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. Hansen v. Fincantieri Marine Corp., LLC, No. 13-3391 (August 18, 2014).

The Seventh Circuit held that expert testimony is not required to prove that an employee is unable to work.
More specifically, the record showed that Hansen had exceeded the number of absences that his doctor estimated that Hansen would need on his FMLA certification form for his medical condition. The District Court found that Hansen could not prove his claim because he had no expert evidence to establish that the absences that exceeded that estimate were related to his medical condition. However, the Seventh Circuit held that Hansen did not need to have such expert evidence where his physician was able to testify about his condition and Hansen was able to testify about the reason for those absences.

Furthermore, the Seventh Circuit rejected defendant’s claim that the estimate made by Hansen's doctor in the original medical certification form served as outer limit for the amount of leave that Hansen could take to address his medical condition when taking intermediate leave under FMLA.

 
 
Today, Governor Quinn approved the amendment to the Human Rights Act that requires employers to reasonably accommodate pregnancies.  The amendment takes effect January 1, 2015.  

To learn more about the amendment, read our blog post from 5/28/14.
 
 
FMLA
Employee Langenbach claimed that Wal-Mart fired her in retaliation for exercising her FMLA rights as she was fired just five months after returning from FMLA leave, in violation of the FMLA. However, Wal-Mart claimed that Langenbach was fired for job performance reasons. 


The Seventh Circuit held that the record showed a history of deficiencies and sub-par performance by Langenbach both before and after the FMLA leave of absence.  Therefore, it affirmed the grant of Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment. Langenbach v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 14-1022 (August 4, 2014).

Lagenbach also sued for Title VII discrimination, claiming that Wal-Mart: (1) delayed her promotion to assistant manager; (2) paid her less than her male counterparts; and (3) failed to promote her further - all because of her gender.  The District Court granted summary judgment to Wal-Mart on this claim as well.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the proffered male comparatives, who were promoted in faster time frame, had different educational backgrounds and more relevant job experiences than plaintiff. 

 
 
Plaintiff Matthews brought a Title VII action alleging that Waukesha County failed to hire her in an Economic Support Specialist position because of her race.  

However, the Seventh Circuit held that the record showed that the person evaluating the applicants’ resumes was unaware of the race of any applicant, and that the successful candidate had more relevant job experience.  Therefore, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court, which granted Waukesha’s motion for summary judgment.  Matthews v. Waukesha County, No. 13-1839 (July 22, 2014).

 
 
The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer and the Seventh Circuit reversed. Malin v. Hospira, Inc., No. 13-2433 (7th Cir., August 7, 2014).

In the unerlying action, Plaintiff Malin sued Hospira for failing to promote her and demoting her in a reorganization thus retaliating against her in violation of Title VII and the FMLA.

Malin argued that complained about sexual harassment in 2003 and was then demoted in a 2006 reorganization.  The Seventh Circuit focused on whether there was a causal connection between the complaint and demotion, holding that there was.  The Court noted that "the mere passage of time is not legally conclusive proof against retaliation" and noted that the employer had repeatedly retaliated against Malin from 2003 through 2006.

Malin requested FMLA leave on June 19, 2006, and the reorganization was announced on July 12, 2006.  The Court held that 
a "single event can have multiple but-for causes, so Malin’s FMLA leave request and her sexual harassment complaint could both have been but-for causes of Hospira’s allegedly retaliatory conduct." Further, a reasonable jury could find that Hospira retaliated against Malin for requesting FMLA leave.  

Finally, the Court noted its "disappointment" with Hospira's summary judgement motion, which "misrepresented the record" and "cherry-picked" phrases from plaintiffs deposition, when no admissions existed.  The Court warned about the additional costs and risks of sanctions for "engaging in these shenanigans" under 28 USC  § 1927.
 
 
Female and male
The Seventh Cir. held that that there was a genuine issue of material fact in plaintiff's gender discrimination and hostile environment Title VII claims, therefore, it reversed the District Court. Orton-Bell v. State of Indiana, No. 13-1235 (July 21, 2014).  It affirmed the summary judgement as to her retaliation claim. 

The Seventh Circuit held that Orton-Bell could establish a sex discrimination claim based on disparate treatment as her male-coworker was a comparator where (1) both she and her male co-worker were fired for having sexual affair; and (2) her male co-worker was allowed to return to his job on contractual basis, while the defendant barred the plaintiff from returning to her job in any capacity. 

With regard to hostile envir
onment, the Seventh Circuit held that Orton-Bell could establish hostile environment claim because her supervisors "failed to remedy the severely sexualized climate at the prison" where her supervisor and co-workers subjected her to a never-ending barrage of sexual comments and overly-through pat-downs in her prison job.  

Finally, As Orton-Bell could not establish that employees having sex on her desk was grounded in her protected status, her complaints about them were not protected complaints, therefore, her retaliation claim fails.

 
 
ADA
The Seventh Circuit upheld the summary judgment ruling in favor of the employer, Jewel.  Reeves v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., No. 13-3782 (July 17, 2014).

In the underlying action, plaintiff Reeves alleged that Jewel fired him because of his mental disability cased by Down Syndrome, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").

The Seventh Circuit took the position that Reeve's requests for accommodation (job coaching) in March 2005 did not pertain to assisting him in curbing his verbal outbursts towards his co-workers which resulted in his termination in April 2005. Therefore, it held that Reeves could not establish viable failure to accommodate claim.

The Seventh Circuit also held that the record showed that Jewel fired Reeves after receiving a report that Reeves had cursed at co-worker in violation of company policy.