The Chicago Employment Law Blog

February 2011 Archives

Settlement From IPA Leaves Victims Unsatisfied With Lawsuit

The class-action lawsuit against the consulting business known as International Profit Associates Inc. (IPA) in Buffalo Grove is finally drawing to an end, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the Chicago Tribune, the agency sued IPA on behalf of over 100 women who claimed the company had a pattern of sexual harassment.

Both parties are currently working out the details of a settlement where IPA has agreed to pay $8 million to the plaintiffs. Court papers revealed the company admitted to recognizing an "unlawful pattern or practice of tolerating sexual harassment" that existed in the workplace between November 1997 and February 2005.

Court Clerk Lays Off 170 Employees In Cook County

Dorothy Brown's Cook County Circuit Clerk Court office issued pink slips to 170 employees earlier this week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The layoffs are said to be part of the county government's initiative to reduce its current half-billion dollar deficit.

But Brown's office, which officially records and keeps track of all the court cases in the Cook County, did not mention where and exactly the layoffs were happening.

Sen. Dick Durbin Proposes Bill to Save Illinois Businesses Money

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois said he plans on introducing a new bill that could potentially save the state over $200 million during the next two years, according to Chicago Breaking News.

The legislation would temporarily stop Illinois and other states from paying interest to the federal government for two years on money borrowed and used to pay for unemployment benefits. The proposal would also keep unemployment taxes from rising, saving Illinois employers over $300 million.

Cathleen Schandelmeier-Bartels Sues Employer For Race Discrimination

Cathleen Schandelmeier-Bartels filed a race discrimination lawsuit against her employer, claiming her termination from the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago was racially-motivated. Schandelmeier, a white employee, was fired after an incident on July 31 led her to believe that a black child was getting hit with a belt by his aunt.

According to Courthouse News Service, Schandelmeier reported the incident to her boss Andrea Adams, the cultural center's director, and said she saw the aunt with "a belt looped in her hand" followed by the child crying with "a welt on his arm." However, Adams, who is black, explained that the aunt's actions were "a cultural thing" that reflected "the way we discipline children in our culture."

AG Lisa Madigan Files Lawsuit To Stop Jon Burge From Receiving Pension

The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that it has filed a lawsuit against former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago.

The suit seeks to stop Burge from receiving his monthly $3,000 pension in light of his conviction for lying about the persecution of criminal suspects, according to the Associated Press. Last month, he was sentenced to 4 ½ years for lying in civil lawsuit after he claimed he had never witnessed or taken part in tormenting any suspects.

Unemployment Rate Falls To 9 Percent in January

The Labor Department reported that unemployment across the country dropped from 9.4 percent in December to just 9 percent in January, which is the steepest two-month drop during the last 53 years. Over 620,000 jobless individuals nationwide have been able to find work as the total net gain for jobs amounted to 36,000.

The number of long-term jobless people who have been without work for 27 weeks or more has also dropped to 6.2 million from 6.4 million, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Employment opportunities in retail rose to 28,000 while manufacturing companies across the country added 49,000 jobs.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle recently introduced her $3.1 billion budget proposal to Cook County commissioners, which aims to resolve the $487 million deficit. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, her 2011 proposal also includes a plan to lay off 1,075 to 2,000 employees from the county payroll.

“It’s very painful to me that one of my first tasks in public office - in this office - is to put so many people out on the street,” said Preckwinkle after her budget address. She explained that the layoffs, along with raising court fees and restructuring Cook County’s debt, are expected to help close the deficit by saving nearly $214 million.

Chicago-Area Ford Workers Receive Bonuses In March

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Ford Motor Co. had a $6.6 billion profit for the full year, which is two times more than what the company made in 2009. Ford's increased profits has lead to the largest profit-sharing payouts given to union workers during the last 10 years. A Ford spokesperson said employees are expected to receive bonus payments beginning on March 9.

The payouts initially started in 1982 after the company entered into negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. Forty-two thousand hourly UAW workers nationwide are employed at Ford, which includes the 2,400 that work at Chicago's Southeast Side Ford assembly plant and the 740 at the Chicago Heights stamping plant.