The Chicago Employment Law Blog

July 2012 Archives

Mayor's Girlfriend Can Sue City Council for Firing

No silly, not that mayor. Rahm's married.

We're talking about the mayor, city council, and a few former employees of Country Club Hills, Illinois. The town of about 15,000 has seen a political power struggle that has led to a bitter election, allegations of misappropriated funds, mass layoffs of political opponents, and of course, allegations of combustible trousers.

No one does politics quite like Illinois.

CPS, CTU Score Wins in Negotiations; 477 Teachers Added

compromise - com·pro·mise - noun - a settlement of differences by mutual concessions where no one is happy with the result but both parties are able to walk away without egg on their face.

Okay, so that's not the official definition, but it's pretty close. You know what else might be close? A settlement to the labor strife between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Sexual Harassment: Defining a Hostile Work Environment

One of the biggest burdens to victory in a sexual harassment case comes when the plaintiff is alleging a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment isn’t where your boss simply dislikes you. That’s just a matter of their poor taste in company.

A hostile work environment in a sexual harassment case involves more than a bully boss. Instead, there must be severe and pervasive conduct that a reasonable employee would find intimidating. In short, the hostility must rise to a level that it interferes with your work.

Americans with Disabilities Act: What's a Reasonable Accomodation?

Imagine this. You own a McDonald’s franchise. A person, who is otherwise quite qualified, comes in to apply for a job assembling sandwiches. However, he only has one arm. Do you have to hire him?

Maybe. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, both current and prospective, based on their disabilities. If a person is able to fulfill the essential functions of the position, he cannot be denied due to a disability.

But, as the Big Mac assembly line is presently set up, it requires two hands. Do you have to redesign the line?

$1 Million Settlement in McDonald's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Missoula Mac, Inc., which owns and operates 25 McDonald's franchise locations in the Madison, Wisconsin area, is going to need to flip a lot of Big Macs to cover the tab on this lawsuit.

According to the EEOC, the company has agreed to settle the case for $1 million after a protracted class-action litigation process.

CPS, CTU Get Arbitrator's Report: Both (Shockingly) Reject It

School starts in less than a month ... maybe. One third of Chicago Public Schools are set to open on August 13. The rest open on September 4. By then, odds are, the only teachers on site will be the ones with picket signs.

The long-awaited compromise proposal was officially released today, though the details of the proposal have been leaking for days. Among the suggestions are a 15-to-18 percent raise in the first year and an average raise of more than 35 percent over four years, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The sides have 15 days to reject or accept the proposal.

FindLaw Guide to FMLA: Going Gets Tough, You Get Leave (Maybe)

It's a common concern for those stricken with severe illness or blessed with oncoming offspring: What's going to happen with my job?

It's understandable, especially in this economy, to worry about job security. This is especially true when your doctor has informed you that you'll need to take time off for either your unexpected medical condition or the illness of a family member.

The good news is that the law, and FindLaw, have got you covered. The FindLaw Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act has information on the law's coverage, requirements, and benefits. It's a great place to start for both employees that might need leave and employers that might have to provide it.

EEOC Signs Mediation Pact With Family Dollar Stores

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is the federal agency tasked with enforcing the rights of the oppressed worker. We have covered dozens of lawsuits, filed by the EEOC, on behalf of a worker who is the victim of harassment or discrimination, such as the United Road Towing case from a couple of weeks ago.

But the EEOC isn’t just a pack of litigious Rottweilers with blood dripping from their fangs. There is a division of the EEOC that is more like a bunch of happy kittens. It consists of the kinder, gentler, enforcers. They are the mediators.

Cop Free To Pursue Overtime Claims for Caring for K-9

Bob Diorio is a human member of the K-9 unit in Tinley Park. In addition to standard cop duties, he’s also responsible for caring for, training, grooming, and transporting his partner, Thor. Thor is a dog.

As part of his compensation, Diorio is given $2,000 a year, as a lump-sum stipend, to take care of the dog. The problem, as many pet owners can attest, is that caring for the dog requires a lot of time. In fact, according to Diorio, it requires so much time that the dog duties, combined with his police work, puts him way over the 40 hours per week threshold for overtime, reports the Courthouse News.

Former Judge Files Class Action Challenging State Pension Plan

Well, that didn't take long.

Just last month, we reported on the great State of Illinois' attempt to take away free healthcare benefits from retirees. Another earlier post highlighted the constitutionality of changing the benefits for future employees, but didn't address past employees. After all, the language pretty explicitly prohibits such a move.

Really, you didn't have to be Ms. Cleo to see this lawsuit coming. Anyone with a high school education can read the arguably applicable provision in the Illinois State Constitution.

Public Schools on the Verge of Insolvency Choose to Spend More

What would you do if you were down to your last few dollars in savings? Your bills are high, you are barely making your current payments, and soon, you won't be able to make those payments at all.

You'd spend more money, right?

That's exactly what the Chicago Public Schools are planning to do, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. They are planning an across-the-board two percent pay raise for every employee in the district.

Federal Law Will Kill Roll-your-own Cigarette Stores, Jobs

The war on smoking and cigarettes continues. Last month, Illinois increased taxes on roll-your-own machine cigarettes, which forced some business owners to move over the Wisconsin border. Now, President Barack Obama is expected to sign a bill that will increase taxes at the federal level, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Goodbye, small business.

For those of you unfamiliar with the "roll-your-own" concept, the machines essentially take tobacco and make cigarettes with the push of a button. These are not the hand-rolled cigarettes of our forefathers; they look just like the ones manufactured by Big Tobacco.

SAD Teacher Wins Appeal of ADA Case, Keeps Judgment

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a recurrent type of depression that happens at a certain time of the year for the affected person. It usually occurs during the winter, and is often treated by the use of special lamps or sunlight. It is thought that the depression is caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight and special lamps can recreate the benefits of sunlight.

Renae Ekstrand first noticed that she suffered from the disorder in 2005. Ekstrand taught first grade in a classroom that lacked windows. After experiencing the seasonal depression, and consulting with a physician, Ekstrand requested that the school give her a different classroom. Instead of making such a reasonable accommodation, they merely made attempts to make the room "more hospitable."