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Sex Harassment Retaliation Client Fired for Supporting Coworker Defeats Summary Judgment

United States District Court, Illinois Northern District Eastern Division (March 2011)

Our client filed a retaliation lawsuit against her former employer in federal court. She had been fired by her employer after testifying in a lawsuit by another female worker. That employee claimed that she was sexual harassed and retaliated on the job. Our client was named as a witness in that lawsuit and was required to testify because she had also been sexually harassed by the same supervisor.

At her deposition, she testified that she too was sexually harassed by the same supervisor. Within three days of her testimony, she was fired. She then sued for retaliation, claiming that she was terminated because of her testimony. After discovery, the employer filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss her case. The employer claimed that she was fired for bringing a provocative birthday party invitation into the workplace. Attorney Scott Fanning prepared and filed our law firm's response to that motion. We argued that the employer lied about the reason for the firing because her supervisor had already decided to fire her before even seeing the invitation. We argued that the true reason for her firing was because of testimony that she was also sexually harassed.

The supervisor that fired her had testified that he learned of the birthday party invitation on July 31, 2008 and immediately met with her to fire her. However, both of them worked the second shift on that day. We presented evidence to the court that showed that our client's termination papers had been faxed on the 31st at 11:29am - before the second shift started. Defendant had apparently not looked at the date and time stamp on their own faxed papers before settling on their story about her firing. Based on this evidence, she could not have been fired for the invitation because her termination papers were faxed even before the supervisor saw the invitation that he claimed led to the firing.

In handing a decisive victory to our client on this motion, the Judge concluded that our client "has provided sufficient evidence that [Defendant] is lying about why he fired her." Defendant's arguments were rejected and its motion denied in its entirety.

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