The Chicago Employment Law Blog

December 2012 Archives

School Turnaround Program Leads To Racial Discrimination Lawsuits

The words "racism" and "discrimination" are probably giving the administrators and legal staff of Chicago Public Schools nausea at this point. Less than two weeks after a lawsuit alleged that a former principal's reforms at a Chicago school negatively impacted African-American students and staff, another lawsuit about reforms and racism has been served on the district, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

For the last decade or so, CPS has carried out a number of "turnaround" programs at underperforming schools. For each school, the entire staff is sent packing and replaced with an entirely new team. The majority of these "turnarounds" have occurred at schools in the South and West Sides. These schools also employ the majority of African-American teachers.

D.C. Circuit Overturns NLRB Ruling; Editorial Mutiny Not Protected

Every writer has been there. They compose something brilliant. In their mind it is only rivaled by the greatest works of William Faulkner himself. Then the editor gets his hands on it. The end result is either full deletion or a rewritten piece that sounds nothing like the original. Your version of "The Sound and the Fury" becomes a mere whimper of indignation.

The fact is, if you write for a reputable newspaper or blog, an editor will change your articles. The sooner one becomes accustomed to the system, the easier their job becomes.

Dillard's Settles Nationwide Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

National department store chain Dillard’s, which has three locations in Illinois, will pay $2 million and undergo significant changes to their policies regarding disabled and sick leave policies. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which brought the suit on behalf of Corina Scott, a former California employee, and an unknown number of others that may have been affected by Dillard’s policies, Dillard’s policies regarding disability leave violated a number of provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Beginning in 2005, Dillard’s adopted a new policy regarding sick leave that required employees to disclose their exact medical condition in order to be approved for leave - even if they had a doctor’s note. Those who took leave without providing specifics were terminated.

Fired Teacher Sues CPS for Racial and Disability Discrimination

Let’s pull out that old cliché about smoke and fire. This is the fourth lawsuit to be filed by a former teacher from George Washington High School since now-retired principal Florence Gonzales took over the school and instituted sweeping changes that left many teachers unemployed and the racial composition of the school drastically altered.

This lawsuit, filed by formerly tenured teacher Michelle Nelson, alleged that she was fired because she is black. A district spokesperson told the Sun-Times that Nelson was fired for cause. What was that cause? She was sleeping at her ex-husband’s house, outside of Chicago, to care for her disabled and wheelchair-bound son.

Ho Ho No!?! Workplace Holiday Parties Without the Lawsuits

Ho Ho Ho? Stop with the holiday cheer! There will be no St. Nick here, mister! This isn't the Grinch talking, but a lawyer, worried about your exposure to lawsuits. Sure, company parties can be a lot of fun, but they can also put you at risk for sexual harassment, wage and overtime, and discrimination lawsuits.

If you feel that employee morale is best served by having a holiday party, and you're willing to assume the risks associated with holiday parties, here are a few tips to minimize exposure:

Discrimination is Illegal, Even if Done With Best of Intentions

Dorothy Shanks sought a temporary placement through Staffmark, a nationwide staffing agency. Her assignment, with a Sony's logistics and shipping facility, lasted less than two days before she was removed out of fear for her safety.

Why the concern? She has a prosthetic leg. Her Sony supervisors were afraid that someone would bump into her. Staffmark promised to find her another assignment where she could sit. Shockingly enough, they never did.

Time Off for Religious Holidays: Learn From UPS' Alleged Mistake

Much like beauty, the legal standard of "reasonableness" is in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds reasonable, an employer might think untenable. When it comes to time off for religious holidays, employees with unfamiliar religious practices can become a quandary for an employer. While they want to respect their employee's religious practices, they also need to have their staff available during working hours, without unpredictable days off.

The name of the game is reasonable compromise. United Parcel Services will learn this the expensive way, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The federal watchdog agency is suing UPS on behalf of a former employee who was denied time off to attend the Memorial of Christ's Death, which is an annual religious service for Jehovah's Witnesses.