The Chicago Employment Law Blog

March 2011 Archives

Unemployment And Pay Cuts Affect Parents Paying Child Support

High unemployment in Illinois is taking a toll on many parents' ability to pay for child support. One example: requests for court ordered reduction in child support payments have tripled over the last few years. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that support collected from unemployment compensation has also jumped from $17.6 million to $106.9 million between 2006 and 2010.

"It's hitting across all walks of life," said Chicago attorney Michelle Lawless, who represents parents receiving child support and those required to pay it. "High-income earners, low-, middle-income earners, everyone is being hit. It's an across-the-board problem."

Transgender Employment Rights: A Key Issue In Passing ENDA

Some Chicago residents may not realize that gender identity has recently become one of the most controversial issues in the ongoing debate about employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees across the country.

Crain News Service reported that the latest version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is expected to be brought before Congress sometimes this year. Unlike past versions of the federal bill, the revised measure will likely include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, protections for transgender individuals may trigger much opposition, which could make ENDA’s passage somewhat doubtful.

Supreme Court Rules In Support Of Kevin Kasten In Retaliation Case

In the wage complaint case filed by former Saint-Gobain Plastics employee Kevin Kasten, The New York Times reported that a significant issue was raised over whether the phrase "filed any complaint," as found in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, only applied to written complaints when it came to resolving employment issues involving employer retaliation and whistleblowing.

As some Chicago residents may have heard, the Supreme Court ruled that workers who complained about wage violations to their employer, whether those complaints were oral or written, still remained protected from retaliation under the 1938 law. While the act generally deals with poor working conditions, Justice Stephen G. Breyer stated that it also encourages employees to speak out without having to be afraid of getting fired.

Chicago Offers Less Summer Jobs For Teens This Year

The Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas reported that teenagers in Chicago and across the country may have a hard time finding employment this summer, since large budget deficits will likely have a negative effect on the summer job market this year.

According to ABC 7 Chicago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that only 960,000 jobs were filled nationwide by teens between the ages of 16 to 19 from May through July of 2010, which is the lowest number of summer hires since 1949. The number of summer jobs last year also fell 17.5 percent from the 1,163,000 jobs that were offered in 2009.

Rahm Emanuel Stands By Jim LoBianco Despite Past DUI Arrest

Jim LoBianco, the executive director of Streetwise, is also one of the 13 members of Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s transition team advising him on issues regarding health care and social services. However, LoBianco was found with past DUI arrest from last year, where he was charged with both drunk driving and failing to slow down after rear-ending a car at a red light.

No individuals were injured in the car accident, although responding police officers had apparently “detected alcohol.” Authorities said LoBianco had “refused the field sobriety and Breathalyzer test,” although he was later acquitted of the DUI charge but not for failing to reduce the speed of her vehicle. Despite his past DUI arrest, however, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Emanuel still stood by LoBianco.

Durable Contract Services Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

Durable Contract Services Inc., a Milwaukee-based security company, must pay $35,000 to settle a discrimination complaint filed by employee Tenisha Yarbrough. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Chicago district office claimed the company violated a federal law when they fired Yarbrough a few days after she told her supervisor she was pregnant.

Firing, demoting, or denying a worker employment and benefits because of pregnancy is considered sex discrimination under federal law, according to the Journal Sentinel. But the company, which provides security for government buildings, contended that they fired Yarbrough on account of her attendance record and concerns regarding her safety at work during her pregnancy.

Charlie Sheen Sues Warner Bros. And Chuck Lorre

As mentioned earlier in this blog, actor Charlie Sheen from the CBS television series "Two and a Half Men" was recently fired from the show because Warner Brothers felt Sheen's erratic behavior and life off the set was beginning to affect his performance. The studio also added that the actor was becoming a liability and risk for the show.

However, many Chicago locals may have heard that Sheen filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre, the executive producer of the TV show, only a few days after he was terminated. The Los Angeles Times reported the suit was filed on March 10 in Santa Monica Superior Court and seeks about $100 million in damages.

Charlie Sheen Plans To Sue Warner Bros. For Wrongful Termination

As many Chicago locals may have heard, Warner Brothers recently fired actor Charlie Sheen from the popular CBS television series "Two and a Half Men." According to Reuters, the studio said they fired Sheen for interrupting the progress of the show and claimed he had also violated a clause in his contract when he committed "a felony offense involving moral turpitude."

While Warner Bros. contends the actor was "engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct," Sheen's lawyer Marty Singer said he plans to sue the studio for breaching its contract with his client. Regardless of Sheen's unpredictable and bizarre behavior, Singer argued that Warner Bros. had no reasonable basis for suspending or terminating the actor.

Employee Performance Reviews: Are They Fair?

Most Chicago employees usually dread performance reviews, and many will often complain about the unfairness of the whole process. According to the ABA Journal, University of California at Los Angeles management professor Samuel Culbert said performance evaluations can actually discourage the growth of more trusting relationships in the workplace.

Employers often advertise performance reviews as an objective assessment of how well an employee has worked. However, Culbert contended that they are really more subjective, which may also be why it is not that uncommon for an individual's performance evaluation to change after he or she is placed under a different boss while at the same job.

Disability Discrimination Claims With EEOC Increase in 2010

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 25,165 disability discrimination claims were filed last year, which is 17 percent more than those filed in 2009. This is the most disability-related claims the EEOC has encountered since the Americans with Disabilities Act began to be enforced in 1992.

Some experts believe the expanded definition of "disabled," which became effective in January 2009, may have contributed to the rise in disability claims in 2010. According to Human Resource Executive Online, the definition of a disability now includes a wider range of medical conditions like diabetes, carpal-tunnel syndrome, and even migraines.