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Client With Severe Stuttering Disability Wins Summary Judgment Motion

Illinois Human Rights Commission , March 2009

Our client, a severe stutterer, brought a complaint against a Municipality and his Union claiming that he was subjected to discrimination because he stutters each time he speaks. When he complained about the discrimination, he was subjected to retaliation for complaining. After discovery of evidence in the case, both the City and Union asked that the Illinois Human Rights Commission dismiss the case on various grounds, including a claim that his stuttering was not a disability or handicap recognized by the law under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

We resisted the motion on written submissions by Scott Fanning, one of our attorneys. In the thoroughly documented written opposition, we argued that stuttering was a disability/handicap recognized by law as deserving of protections under Illinois civil rights laws. We further argued that our client deserved a hearing on the merits of his retaliation case because substantial evidence supported his claim of discrimination as well as retaliation citing specific facts that he was subjected to unfair and unequal terms conditions of employment due to his disability and for complaining about being treated poorly for it. The judge agreed.

In handing our client a ground-breaking victory on all aspects of the motion and in rejecting the employer's and union's arguments, the judge ruled that our client had advanced sufficient evidence to prove that his stuttering may qualify as a handicap/disability under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Judge further held that our client presented sufficient evidence that his employer and Union were indifferent to his complaints and thus may properly sustain a claim of retaliation. This ruling clears the way for our client to receive a full public hearing in the case.

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