Showing 24 posts in Seventh Circuit.

Seventh Circuit Upholds Tip Credit Pay for Related, Non-Tipped Duties

As those in the restaurant industry know well, federal and state law allow employers to pay tipped employees less than the required minimum wage with the expectation they will receive enough tips to make up the difference. This is referred to as a "tip credit." There has long been a battle within wage and hour suits over whether and when an employee paid under the tip-credit can still be paid the below minimum wage rate while performing "side-work" or non-serving duties that do not directly result in tips from customers. In a decision issued on July 15, 2016, the Seventh Circuit helped clarify the line, finding that an employer did not violate wage laws by paying its servers under the tip credit for side work those servers performed. More ›

Seventh Circuit Reiterates Standard for Establishing Substantial Limitation on the Ability to Work

It goes without saying that an employee cannot prevail on a disability discrimination claim unless he is actually disabled. In the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this means that he must show that a disability “substantially limits” one or more of his “major life activities.”  Predictably, plaintiffs often allege that the “major life activity” that their disability has impacted is the activity of “working." Thus, an important question for employers is this: when does a disability actually limit an employee’s ability to work? More ›

Say what? An Employee can sue for Discriminatory Termination After Resigning?

The employee who causes you to lose sleep at night — you know, the poor performer with a worse attitude — saunters into your office Friday afternoon and QUITS. As she walks out the door with her belongings, you exhale a deep sigh of relief and smile. You won’t lose another wink of sleep over this again…

Fast forward two months. It’s Monday morning. You stop by the mail room to pick up your mail, and find a letter from the EEOC. Curious, you open it to find a charge of discrimination filed by your old friend. You scratch your head, thinking: “This employee quit. How could she claim we discriminated against her by terminating her. This claim must be frivolous.” Yeah? Think again. More ›

Seventh Circuit Finds Companies to be Single Employer for Purposes of Arbitrability Under Union Contract

A tile installation company employed union workers. Certain customers of the company request non-union employees in order to obtain cheaper labor. As a result, the owners of the company started a second company which employed only non-union employees. The union filed a grievance, seeking union benefits for the employees at this new company. The joint arbitration committee granted the union’s request, which prompted the companies to file a motion in federal district court seeking to vacate the award. The union also filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to enforce the award. The owners argued that the new company was not subject to the collective bargaining agreement and thus should not be bound by the arbitration award. The district court granted the union’s motion to enforce the award on the grounds that under the “single employer” doctrine, the companies were treated as one and the same. The companies appealed, but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling. The Court of Appeals concluded that the two companies were centrally operated by the same entity, and were thus one and the same for purposes of arbitrability under the contract.

For more information read Lippert Tile Co., Inc. v. International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, et al. No. 12-2658 (7th Cir., August 1, 2013).

Employee’s Need for time off for Medical Reasons does not Protect her from Termination

The Seventh Circuit Court of appeals recently affirmed summary judgment for the employer on an employee's ADA and FMLA claims. In this case, the employee was terminated after she was absent many times due to symptoms (and the ultimate diagnosis) of multiple sclerosis. She was unable to adhere to the company's attendance guidelines, was not eligible for leave, and could not perform the essential functions of her job (e.g., attendance) even with reasonable accommodation.  More ›

Seventh Circuit Clarifies how to mtet Injury Requirement of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Employers who encounter the option of pursuing a current or former employee or independent contractor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act have at times passed on this option due to the specific injury requirement imposed by the Act. Fortunately, the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has recently provided guidance on how to satisfy the injury requirement imposed by the Act so as to avoid the entry of an adverse summary judgment that bars the pursuit of a claim under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA"). More ›

Court Finds that Employer’s Failure to Return Employee to work Prior to Conclusion of FMLA Leave does not Amount to Interference

In this case, a hotel maintenance employee who had worked for the employer for over 20 years had a history of vision problems. His employer regularly accommodated these problems by ensuring that the employee’s schedule and assignments were copied in large print. Later, the employee suffered an injury, which required him to take leave. The hotel provided him with required information under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and approved 12 weeks of leave. More ›

School Principal Lacks free Speech Claim as Work-Related Complaints not Made as Private Citizen

A new middle school principal questioned her predecessor about certain expenditures made using the school credit card. The following year, the principal was placed on a performance improvement plan, and was later advised that the school was contemplating terminating her contract. The principal filed a police report claiming the predecessor misused school funds, and also sent letters regarding the same matter to the superintendent and other school officials. A hearing was held, and the district board voted to terminate the principal's contract. She then sued, alleging breach of contract and violations of 42 USC 1983, claiming that she was retaliated against for engaging in activities which were protected under the First Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the district and the principal appealed. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that "in order for a public employee to raise a successful First Amendment claim for her employer's restriction of her speech, the speech must be in her capacity as a private citizen and not as an employee." In this case, however, the principal was speaking as a public employee when she lodged complaints against her predecessor, and was speaking about matters which were directly within her oversight as the principal. The Court similarly found that her breach of contract claim could not withstand because the contract language itself specifically stated that the district could terminate her for whatever reason after one year, as long as she was provided severance for the remaining year. The distinction between public and private speech can be a critical part of a public employer's defense against an employee's retaliation claim. This case also reminds employers of the importance of including specific language about at will or for cause termination in employment contracts.

Seventh Circuit Decertifies Class due to Individualized Damage Calculations

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion upholding a district court’s de-certification of a collective and class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Illinois state wage laws. While the opinion did not deal with typical Rule 23 or Section 16 issues, such as commonality or a common employer policy, it is a positive case for employers trying to get out from under lengthy, expensive class litigation. More ›

Seventh Circuit: Failure to Object to EEOC Subpoena Within five Business days Waives any Future Objection

Addressing an issue of first impression for a federal appellate court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that, in order to object to an EEOC subpoena based on irrelevance or overbreadth, an employer must file a petition within five business days of first receiving the subpoena – if no such timely petition is filed, any later attempts to avoid responding are waived. This decision eliminates what had previously been an alternative theory relied upon by some employers: that an initial failure to file an objecting petition could be remedied by filing a motion to dismiss in federal court when the EEOC seeks to enforce the subpoena. Going forward, therefore, employers that receive an EEOC subpoena which they find to be overly burdensome or irrelevant must file a petition within the 5-day period set forth in EEOC regulations. If that opportunity is missed, any future efforts by the employer to avoid responding will be denied. More ›

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