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Firm Wins Disability/Handicap Discrimination Federal Court Appeal Victory For The Deaf

United States District Court Illinois Northern District, Eastern Division (September 2008)

Our law firm won a major court victory for deaf job applicants and workers in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Our deaf client is an attorney who obtained a J.D. Degree from Quinnpiac University School of Law and an LLM degree in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. He applied to work as a tax consultant. He claimed that in a subsequent telephone conversation conducted through a Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), Defendent offered him a job interview which they later retracted after learning that he was deaf during that TRS conversation.

Defendent that the case be dismissed, arguing that the TRS discussion was inadmissible hearsay and could not be considered in the case. The district judge dismissed the case on the grounds that our client could not testify to the contents of the conversation with the employer. According to the district judge, testimony regarding communications through TRS is inadmissible hearsay because a third person is involved who translates between the hearing person and the deaf person.

Our law firm appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals with the assistance of attorneys from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) as well as the EEOC and U.S. Department of Justice. On appeal, we argued that a TRS conversation involving deaf persons should be treated the same way as telephone conversations between two hearing people which are admissible in evidence.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with us. It overturned the decision of district judge and ruled that testimony of TRS conversations involving deaf persons are admissible just like telephone conversations between hearing people. This ground-breaking decision bears major significance for the deaf as it ensures that they can conduct day-to-day business activities through TRS without fear that their testimony regarding the transactions would not stand up in court. The decision is further remarkable as it is the first case in the Seventh Circuit jurisdiction that has ruled on the issue. In fact, no Court of Appeals had addressed the admissibility of the statements made in a TRS conversation prior to this opinion.

Needless to say that our victorious client, law firm, as well as attorneys from NAD are ecstatic about the outcome of the appeal. The case has now been assigned to a new district court judge who will set a trial date in January 2009.

Firm's Client Obtains Judgment Against the Chicago Hospital in Sex Harassment Case

United States District Court, Illinois Northern District Eastern Division June 2007.

Our client, a former employee of an agency serving a Chicago Hospital brought a sexual harassment charge against the hospital. She claimed that she was subjected to unwanted sexual advances by her supervisor, a Hospital employee. When she resisted, her supervisor became hostile, gave her a poor evaluation and the Hospital made her life miserable in other ways. She filed a charge with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After investigation, the EEOC concluded that she was sexually harassed and that when she protested, the Hospital and her supervisor tried to transfer her to a distant location, unfavorably altered her working conditions, and gave her a poor evaluation.

Our law firm then filed her case against the Hospital in federal court in September 2006. While the case was in process and to avoid a trial, the Hospital made our client an offer of judgment. According to the offer of judgment, the Hospital agreed that judgment would be entered against it, and in favor of our client for an amount compensating our client for injuries and her attorneys fees.

Satisfied with the Hospital's concessions, our client agreed to ask the judge to enter judgment in her favor, and against the Hospital. The case concluded successfully on June 2007 when the Honorable Judge entered judgment against the Hospital and in favor of our victorious client compensating her for injuries and her attorneys fees.

Chicago Tribune, Sept. 7, 1999

This article mentions Mr. Asonye in connection with his representation of female workers in a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Ford Motor Company since 1994. In the article, Mr. Asonye discusses the impact of media coverage on the Defendant’s responses to the allegations.

National Employment Lawyers Association, Illinois March 2000

The Honorable Judge rebuked the defendant attorneys for Health Care Plan for filing a motion for summary judgment in a race discrimination brought by Uche Asonye.

Before defendant filed the motion, Asonye had asked the judge to allow the parties to make submissions to chambers to determine whether a summary judgment motion was appropriate. After reviewing the material, the judge advised defendant against filing the motion, but defendant did so anyway.

The motion was so “ill-considered” and filled with “self-hypnosis” with respect to the evidence, the judge stated, that sanctions against the defendant’s counsel might be warranted-even if the case went to trial and plaintiff lost.

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