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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.

Racial Harassment Client Defeats Summary Judgment, Earns Federal Jury Trial

United States District Court, Northern Illinois District, Eastern Division (June 2009)

Our client brought federal court claims of racial harassment and retaliatory failure to promote. He claimed that he was referred to as a "nigger" countless times while working in defendant's Illinois Facility. He was also subjected to racially derogatory names and comments such as "coon" "nappy headed hoes" and others. One of his co-workers also had a confederate flag in his work locker in plain view.

When he complained to management about the racial slurs, he was written up, harassed some more, subjected to other inferior treatment, and denied a promotion that he was due. He sued in federal court seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the Defendant. While his lawsuit was pending, Defendant terminated his employment. Shortly after his employment was terminated, the lawyer that had been representing him withdrew from his case. Immediately thereafter, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment asking that the court dismiss his entire case.

Without no attorney and Defendant's motion for summary judgment pending in front of the Honorable Judge, he came to our law firm seeking representation with long odds. We ultimately accepted representation and asked the court for time to respond to the pending motion to dismiss.

Our law firm responded to the motion for summary judgment and provided evidence to the judge that Plaintiff was subjected to a racially hostile work environment and that Defendant's management failed to take appropriate action to stop it. Instead, Plaintiff was retaliated against and denied a promotion for having complained. The Honorable Judge agreed. In denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment on the racial harassment and failure to promote claims, the Court stated that Plaintiff had created a genuine issue of material fact and is entitled to a jury trial on those issues. The trial will be set to occur in Chicago in August 2009.

Court Ruling on "Prego" Comments Paves Way For Client's Pregnancy Harassment Case

United States District Court, Illinois Northern District, Eastern Div.  January  2009

The Honorable Judge issued an opinion in a pregnancy discrimination case brought by one of our clients in federal court. In that case, our client claims to have been subjected to a barrage of harassing comments from coworkers while she was pregnant, including that "pregos are sexy" and such. In the lawsuit, we claimed pregnancy harassment which we believed should be recognized just like sexual and racial harassment cases. Defendent attorneys resisted this somewhat novel claim and asked the court to dismiss our client's case on several grounds, including jurisdiction. The Court refused to dismiss the case. Instead, it sustained our client's case and her entire complaint.

In handing this motion to dismiss victory to our client, the Honorable Judge rejected the Employer attorneys' arguments. In doing so, the court stated that since Plaintiff claims that she was subjected to offensive comments due to her pregnancy such as "sexy prego" and "pregos are sexy", she may proceed with her sexual and pregnancy harassment case in federal court under Title VII. With this motion denied, the court paved the way for the case to progress to discovery and depositions.

Firm's Sexual Harassment Client Wins Summary Judgment Decision and is Awarded Jury Trial

United States District Court, Illinois Northern District Eastern Div, February 2009

The Honorable Judge issued an opinion in a sexual harassment case brought by one of our clients in federal court. In that case, our client who was employment by a Chicago Bank sued for sexual harassment, claiming that she was sexually harassed by her branch manager which consisted of offensive language and unwanted comments and touching.

Following discovery, the Bank asked to court for a ruling on summary judgment. In the motion, the Bank argued that our client's case should be dismissed and she should be denied a jury trial on the basis that she could not win in front of a jury. The Bank's attorneys argued that the Bank took immediate action by terminating the alleged harasser once after HR became aware of the incident. We argued that our client had complained much earlier but her immediate supervisor took to no action to stop the harassment and it continued. The court agreed with us and denied Defendant's motion to dismiss.

In handing our client that decisive summary judgment win, the judge acknowledged that a complete failure by the Bank to respond sexual harassment complaints for almost 4 months simply cannot be viewed as a reasonable to prevent further harassment. The judge went on to award our client a jury trial where she can seek compensatory, punitive and mental anguish damages in front of a jury. The jury trial is set to occur in June 2009.

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