The Chicago Employment Law Blog

January 2011 Archives

Woman Sues Marriot Schaumburg Over Employee Sexual Assault

A woman suing the Marriot hotel in Schaumburg claimed a drunken employee entered her room without permission and sexually assaulted her while she slept. The suit contends the woman was a guest at the hotel and accused the Marriot Schaumburg employee Mauricio Rodriguez of breaking into her room with a hotel master key and attacking her last April.

Rodriguez was allegedly intoxicated when he came into the hotel room, removed his clothes, and sexually assaulted the victim. The woman seeks over $100,000 in damages in addition to the cost of the suit, which was filed in Cook County Circuit Court. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the lawsuit holds Marriot International Inc. responsible for:

Can Employees Get Fired For Social Media Posts?

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to hear a complaint this week involving a union worker, whom many Chicago residents may have heard was fired after posting negative comments about her supervisor on the popular social media website Facebook. The case highlights the legal risks companies can run when it comes to mistakes involving social media.

The ABA Journal reported that the American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. terminated the employee based on company policy that prohibits "bad mouthing" on the internet. However, workers who participate in "concerted activity" to help improve workplace conditions are protected under federal law.

Court Removes Rahm Emanuel From the Chicago Mayoral Ballot

Chicago mayoral front-runner Rahm Emanuel does not qualify for the February ballot, according to a ruling by a state appeals court. Reuters reports the appellate decision overturned a lower court’s ruling, which allowed Emanuel to be on the ballot for the city elections on February 22.

Several Chicago residents challenged whether Emanuel could participate in the race because Illinois law requires municipal office candidates to have resided in the city for a year before elections. The appellate court defined “reside” as “to dwell permanently or continuously” and ruled that Emanual, who resigned in October as President Obama’s former chief of staff, did not live in Chicago during the last year.

Jury Duty: Elena Kagan Did It, So Should You

The newest member of the highest court in the land, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, showed up as required for jury duty in Washington D.C. this week. ABC News reports Justice Kagan was spotted sitting quietly and working on a brief while she waited to be called into the D.C. superior court for possible inclusion on a jury.

ABC reports that Justice Kagan, like the others, was finally excused in the afternoon. The justice left the court, after chatting with some fellow jury members who recognized her, without picking up the $4 transportation stipend generously granted to jurors by the District.

There was no report on the superior court judge's reaction when she or he found out that a Supreme Court Justice might have been on the jury in their courtroom. For Chicagoans who are not lawyers, that would be a bit like having Alfonso Soriano come to your work-league softball game.

Discrimination Charges Increase In Private Sector In 2010

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that discrimination charges filed in the private sector workplace reached a nationwide record of 99,922 for 2010, which increased by 7.1 percent during the year.

According to the Chicago-Sun Times, complaints stemming from retaliation or whistleblower-related cases exceeded the number of race discrimination charges for the first time ever. Charges filed for retaliation accounted for 36.3 percent of discrimination complaints while charges based on race made up 35.9 percent.

Chicago Council Passes Resolution Supporting Undocumented Workers

On January 13, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution stating the federal government should stop deporting undocumented workers who are members of families of "mixed status." In this context, mixed status families are ones where some members are legally in the country and some are not. The resolution included language saying undocumented workers should not be deported if other members of their family are citizens or are children who could be eligible for citizenship if the Dream Act becomes law, reports the Chicago Tribune.

No council members at the meeting spoke against the resolution.

Work-Life Balance Problems: An Issue For Chicago Women

According to The ABA Journal, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has brought up a work-life balance problem that many Chicago women have likely encountered.

She highlighted three reasons why many women, particularly those in law, may not be getting into top leadership positions in the workplace. She explained that most women often:

  1. Underestimate their own abilities;
  2. Accept more than their share of responsibilities when it comes to caring for their children and taking care of the house; and
  3. Give up on taking on more challenging work because of premature work-life balance uncertainties.

Intrigued yet?

There May Be Hope For Employment in Chicago

While unemployment has dropped to nearly 9 percent nationally, 44 percent of Chicago-area job seekers have been without a job for over 27 weeks, while others have been taking part-time, lower-paying jobs. According to ABC 7 Chicago, outplacement specialist John Challenger said many companies have more growth in temporary work but have “not turning those jobs into full-time, permanent positions.”

Even so, those with part-time jobs may have more of an opportunity to learn new skills that could add to their work experience while still receiving some sort of income for a while. Because many full-time positions are still hard to find, underemployed individuals have found some benefits in doing short-term work, like finding time to improve their resume and meeting new people.

Jewel-Osco Settles Discrimination Suit For $3.2M

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a federal lawsuit against Jewel-Osco, the parent company of Supervalu Inc., claiming the company discriminated against disabled workers. Jewel-Osco allegedly terminated employees who had disabilities towards the end of their medical leave, instead of rehiring and providing them with reasonable accommodations.

Take Rosemary Bednarek, a Jewel-Osco employee from Merrillville, Indiana. According to the Chicago-Sun Times, she injured her back in February 2004, from lifting boxes of chicken. The company hired her back after she received medical treatment, but did not accommodate to her doctor’s suggested weight lifting restriction of 20 pounds. As a result, Bednarek re-injured her back in May 2004 and was fired from the company a year later.

Governor Quinn Signs New Pension Bill

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that affects the pension system for firefighters and police officers hired on or after January 1 of this year. His office said the new legislation will also protect retirement benefits for these public safety workers and help municipalities fund pensions.

However, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said he was disappointed that Quinn signed the bill into law. Daley believes the legislation will burden Chicago taxpayers, increasing the city's yearly fire and police pension contribution to nearly $856 million compared to the initial projection of $309 million, in 2015.

Top Scams of 2010: Phony Work-At-Home Jobs

The Better Business Bureau recently released its list of the top ten scams of 2010 based on a number of bureau inquiries and complaints. Phony work opportunities, particularly scams for work-at-home jobs, are at the top of the bureau's list.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, work-at-home schemes often offer consumers a significant amount of money for not a lot of effort or work. Once an interested person applies for the job, schemers will ask for him or her to pay up-front for materials and training kits. When the individual has invested money into the scam, he or she may receiving something useless or never hear back from the scammer again.