race discrimination

Former Franchisee Can Pursue Discrimination Claim Against Culver’s

A black former franchisee of Culver's may pursue his racial discrimination claim against the fast food restaurant chain, a federal judge has ruled.  Michael Wilbern was one of the first African American franchisees of the chain and claims that Culver's hindered his operation in favor or a white franchisee in a neighboring community.  Specifically, Wilbern alleges that the chain blocked every proposed location which Wilbern had suggested because they were in a predominate African American neighborhood.  Instead, he claims that Culver's persuaded him to open up a restaurant in predominately white Franklin park.  Though he opened the store, it failed due to much higher rent costs.  Culver's denies any liability.  The federal court rejected an opportunity to dismiss the suit.  No trial date has yet been scheduled.

EEOC Lawsuits Hit Record 20 Year Low

Despite a troubled economy, and counter to conventional wisdom, the federal agency which monitors workplace discrimination, the EEOC, reported that it filed 122 lawsuits nationally for its fiscal year ended September 30.  This figure is far less than usual.  The agency prosecutes workplace violations involving age, race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, sexual harassment, retaliation, and disability discrimination.  The EEOC does not have jurisdiction to prosecute claims that arise under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.  Apparently, the agency is focusing on systemic or widespread areas of discrimination, as opposed to pursuing single instances of civil rights violations.  Since 1992, except for one year, the EEOC has filed at least 200 lawsuits.  According to the EEOC's website, it filed an average of 333 lawsuits annually since that time.  Regardless, this number is a fraction of the charges of the total number of charges of employment discrimination filed annually.  For fiscal year 2011, 6,098 charges of employment discrimination were filed in Illinois alone.  Thus, most of the time, aggrieved employees need private attorneys to prosecute their employment discrimination claims on their behalf in court.

Federal Appeals Court Rules That Lawyer Can Sue for Discrimination

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an associate attorney formerly employed by Johnson & Bell may pursue his employment discrimination case while the appeal of the dismissal of his defamation case from state court is pending.  Meanith Huon brought a defamation case against her former employer alleging that the law firm defamed her in performance evaluations.  In the discrimination case, Huon contends that he received unfavorable treatment due to his race and national origin.  A lower federal court originally would not let both cases proceed simultaneously.  Huon may have avoided this problem entirely had he brought all claims in one suit.  He likely believed that his defamation claim would be more valuable if it proceeded in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Seventh Circuit Holds That Actionable Racial Discrimination Exists Even If All Not Targeted

On August 8, 2011, a unanimous panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that discrimination against some Hispanic employees violates fedreal anti-discrimination laws even if the company does not discriminate against others in the protected class.  The appeals court reversed a summary judgment ruling by the district court in favor of the employer.  Two plaintiffs were long time employees of Kraft Foods who lost their jobs in November, 2008, following an outsourcing.  The employer pointed to evidence demonstrating that another Hispanic employee did not lose his job.  In the opinion, Judge Diane Wood stated that "Title VII would have little force if an employer could defeat a claim of discrimination by treating a single member of the protected class in accordance with the law."  Our office routinely handles race discrimination claims and cases involving a hostile work environment.

NYU Settles Race Discrimination Lawsuit for $210,000

New York University agreed to settle a race discrimination lawsuit for $210,000.  The lawsuit was brought by an employee of the university who claimed that he was subjected to racial insults such as "monkey," "gorilla" and "do you want a banana?"  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, brought suit on behalf of the individual.  Our office routinely handles discrimination claims involving race, gender, disability and age.