The Chicago Employment Law Blog

April 2011 Archives

Jean-Claude Brizard has Past Cases Of Sex And Age Discrimination

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's Chicago Public Schools CEO pick Jean-Claude Brizard was named in two federal lawsuits during the three years he worked as a superintendent for the Rochester school district in New York. The Chicago Sun-Times reported both suits were filed last July, including the one that accuses Brizard of age discrimination.

The first lawsuit alleged Brizard, 47, fired former Rochester deputy superintendent Marilynn Patterson Grant, 58, last year "without cause" after he said several disparaging remarks about her age. He supposedly told Grant and some school officials "you all are old" and said "in teaching, age matters" during a meeting with other school principals.

Nicole Crowther Fired For Revealing "Glee" Spoiler

Nicole Crowther, a regular extra on “Glee,” was recently fired from the popular Fox television show after she revealed spoilers about the show’s upcoming prom episode on Twitter, according to the Toronto Star. As some Chicago “Gleeks” might have heard, Crowther had disclosed which characters would be crowned prom king and queen.

Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk immediately criticized Crowther about the revelation and wrote “hope you’re qualified to do something besides work in entertainment … Who are you to spoil something talented people have spent months to create?”

The Hollywood Star reported Crowther’s disclosure could also potentially impact the way some television employment contracts are currently written.

Chicago Education-Reform Deal Affects Teacher Strikes

Senators announced an education-reform deal that would add more obstacles before teachers can go on strike, get tenure and make it more efficient for districts to discharge teachers who are performing below expectations. The reform deal would also extend the length of the school day and year in Chicago.

Senator Kimberly Lightford oversaw the negations between school boards, teachers unions, and business and reform groups, which lasted for nearly five months, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "Everything is agreed to," she affirmed.

Jesse Jackson Accused Of Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Tommy Bennett, a former employee of civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, claims he was fired from Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition because of sexual orientation as a gay individual. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Bennett filed a complaint about the issue last year with the Commission of Human Relation in Chicago.

Windy City Times reported Bennett, who worked as the coalition's national director of community affairs, claimed he was discriminated against once he was hired. He said membership and volunteer coordinator Caroline Wiggins told Jackson she didn't want to work with him because he is gay, but no "action was taken in response" to his complaints about her.

Appeals Court Rules Firing Tanisha Matthews Was Not Discriminatory

In a recent religious discrimination suit against Wal-Mart, a federal appeals court ruled in a favor of the company and said its dismissal of Joliet employee Tanisha Matthews was not biased. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Matthews was fired after she told Amy, a lesbian coworker, that God did not accept gays and she would go to hell.

Court documents revealed Matthews, who worked as an overnight stocker at Wal-Mart since 1996, engaged in a conversation about God and homosexuality during one of her break shifts in September 2005. Another employee then told the manager the following day that Matthews had made inappropriate remarks about gays to Amy.

Facing Unusual Questions During A Job Interview

With jobs becoming more competitive, many Chicago job candidates can probably attest to having faced at least one unusual question from out of the blue during a job interview, like: "How else could you market ping-pong balls if ping pong itself became obsolete?"

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, many employers from various career fields and companies might ask applicants to answer job interview questions like these to not find a specific answer, but to see how a potential hire can handle him or herself when thrown off guard.

"The interviewer is trying to ascertain how quickly you think on your feet and how you stand up to stress or pressure," said John M. McKee, principal of and author of the book The Plan.

Rahm Emanuel Gives Teacher And Labor Unions An Ultimatum

The Chicago Sun-Times reported mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has recently announced his plans to have Chicago teachers work longer days and reduce the amount of days laborers are allotted for time off work. He also expressed his support to limit teachers' right to strike during his campaign.

Emanuel warned teachers that if they did not agree to work longer hours for extra pay, he would have to ask the Illinois General Assembly to mandate longer school days.

"If you took a child in Chicago and their cousin in Houston from kindergarten through high school, the cousin in Houston will spend four more years in a classroom in instruction ... That's unacceptable," said Emanuel. "We are cheating the children of Chicago on their future."

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is currently investigating an incident involving a computer lab teacher at Overton Elementary School who posted pictures of a second grade student's hairstyle on her Facebook page, making fun of the child's hairdo.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Lucinda Williams' 7-year-old daughter had asked her to tie some multicolored "Jolly Rancher" candies on the end of her braids for the school's picture day, imitating a picture she had seen in a magazine. While the student said other teachers complimented her hairstyle that day, the computer teacher had asked if she could take a picture of the girl's hair on her cell phone.