Many law firms list “reported cases”. Those are the opinions that courts have published in the case law reporters. Our attorneys have no shortage of such cases. But Maduff & Maduff is a client oriented firm. Here success is measured by the satisfaction of our clients, and a “reported case” alone is not a success. Even winning on appeal does not mean that the client reached his goals. By our definition, a “success” is a satisfied client.
Our model is to work with a client, because only the client can set the goals of her case and we succeed when she feels her goals were met. The pages that followed are therefore dedicated to the clients who worked for their successes and deserve to be proud of them.
The vast majority of cases settle, and they should. Most settlements include a confidentiality clause such that we can only say that the case settled or that it was resolved, but cannot say for how much. The cases listed on the following pages represent successes, not merely reported opinions, and many of them settled for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Since we have not dedicated these pages to “reported cases”, they are listed by case number and court alone to protect the privacy of clients and the companies they sued.
The sheer number of successes makes it impossible to list them all. We have therefore included a few each year that we thought were interesting. We apologize to the majority of our clients who do not find their cases listed here.
Successes From 2017:
When new management took over from out of state, our client faced pressure from a Puerto Rican supervisor. She transferred jobs within the company to avoid reporting to her. Our client was informed of her termination by a coworker who did report to the Puerto Rican supervisor. She inquired as to why she was being terminated and got different reasons from different people. When she inquired about severance of the Puerto Rican supervisor (who she presumed made the decision) she was told “you stupid white bitch, I have a history with you. We don’t need you anymore.” We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our clients were security guards at a chain of retail stores. They were paid their hours in cash b managers out of the cash registers, but were not paid time and a half for overtime hours (they were paid only straight time). We posted notice of the overtime claims in the stores so that other security guards could find out about the case and join it. Sometime after that was done, we settled the case to their satisfaction.
Our client stood at a sharpening stone all day long sharpening knives. He worked well over 40 hours a week, but was only paid a set amount each week. The company claimed he was a salaried employee and exempt from the overtime laws. But to be covered by a “white collar exemption” and paid a salary, an employee must have a specialized education (like doctor, lawyer, or teacher), must make serious employment decisions about lower level employees (including hiring, firing, or doing evaluations which can affect increases), or be using independent judgment to make managerial decisions. Our client did none of those things — he just sharpened knives. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client received discipline for actions for which is white coworkers were not disciplined. He was then suspended. When our client returned from his suspension, he was demoted. He complained of discrimination which the company. The company told him that it had investigated his complaint of discrimination and found no evidence to substantiate it. He was then placed on a performance improvement plan. During the course of that plan, he received positive feedback with the exception of a change in his attitude — the only change in his attitude was his complaints of discrimination. Eventually he was terminated and told that it was because he had filed a charge of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This case was of particular interest because companies tend to avoid retaliation because it is so costly (see for example under 2002 success 00-cv-3901 which resulted in a $346,000 jury verdict) and rarely admit that they are taking a retaliatory act. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client was a dairy herdsman. He had a very unusual contract that provided he be paid a set some per week after deductions. Sometimes he was not paid all that he was owed and other times he was not paid at all. This case presented interesting exemption issues as dairy herdsman are not our typical clients. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2016:
Our client was asleep in her room when hotel security jimmied the lock to let one of her coworkers into the room without authority. The coworker then climbed into the bed with her and assaulted her. We obtained a $121,000 judgment in Federal Court in Puerto Rico for her.
The FMLA provides for leave not only for one’s self, but also to care another who has an FMLA qualifying condition. In this case, our client worked for a public entity and took approved FMLA leave to assist her mother who had had a stroke, in travelling to Alabama to attend her sister’s (our client’s aunt’s) funeral. Upon her return, she was terminated for job abandonment. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Successes From 2015:
In 2014 we succeeded in obtaining an injunction against the pension reform law and then getting the Sangamon County Circuit Court to strike it as unconstitutional (See 2014 MR 1) under 2014 successes. The State of Illinois appealed it to the Illinois Supreme Court and in 2015, a case argued by Aaron Maduff. The Illinois Supreme Court in a 7-0 opinion affirmed the injunction. The State Legislature in looking for other ways to resolve what is now well over a $100 Billion problem has also had Mr. Maduff testify on new bills to address the problem for his constitutional insight.
In this case, our client was terminated without ever having asked for FMLA leave because the company never told him that he was entitled to it. But the company knew that he was taking leave to deal with a serious medical condition — major depressive affective disorder. The FMLA does not only require that an employee be granted leave when requested, but also that the employer inform the employee of his right to take such leave when he needs it for a serious medical condition. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Restaurants often fail to pay proper wages to servers, cooks, busboys, and others leading to class and collective actions. In this case, the Plaintiffs covered several categories of restaurant employees including servers, cooks, and even maître d’. Not only were the Plaintiffs not paid all wages due to them, but they were denied minimum wage and were denied all their tips as paid by the customers. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Successes From 2014:
Facing a $100 Billon pension crisis, the State of Illinois passed a pension reform law commonly known as Public Act 98-599 (or SB1). The law purported to gut the pensions of public employees in various pension systems, including the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) which handles pensions for State University and Community College employees. We filed this case claiming that the law is unconstitutional in violation of the Illinois Constitution. On May 2, 2014 we filed the first motion for injunctive relief to prohibit the State from implementing the law. (Others filed a similar motion a few weeks later.) Shortly thereafter, the Circuit Court of Sangamon County granted an injunction prohibiting the state from making changes to pensions. On November 21, 2014, the Circuit Court of Sangamon County finally declared the unconstitutional in its entirety and void.
Our client was a highly decorated hero having flown more than 150 missions over Iraq and having been the top SWAT commander in Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he found that his supervisor, who had been grooming him for promotion was leaving and his supervisor, a Vice-President expressed concern about the possibility of his being redeployed. Our client explained that he was not available to the military for redeployment for five years, and the only possibility was that he might be considered for admission to the Naval War College, but given admission rates, that was unlikely. He was thereafter denied his escalator pay, denied a promotion, put on a performance improvement plan, and generally harassed until he was forced from the company. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
These cases were filed on behalf of a group of nurses and physical therapists who treated clients in their homes in Southern Illinois. Our clients had to drive great distances, eat while they worked, and often do work from home all unpaid. We settled the case for $900,000.
Our client worked as a non-exempt Network Administrator. At the time of his termination he was paid $36.44/hour. Though scheduled to work 37½ hours per week, he routinely worked beyond those hours. He often came in early in the morning, stayed late, and was required to perform work at home by accessing the network remotely. He was paid an overtime rate for only those hours that were pre-approved, but company still expected all the work to be completed. As a result, our client was forced to work more than a 1,000 hours of unpaid time. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our Client was a security guard stationed at specific locations by his employer. He was inappropriately classified as an independent contractor and therefore not paid time and a half for overtime. We pursued this case under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client was a salesperson inappropriately paid a salary and working 50 hours per week. He was called to training and active military duty several times during his employment. He was told that as a result of missing work for military obligations, he would have to increase his hours to 60-65 per week. He complained that this increase in hours was a violation of USERRA and that he wanted legal counsel. His employer then told him that his accusation of violations of USERRA was creating a hostile work environment and sent him home until he (our client) “resolved” his problem. Our client made several requests to return to work to no avail and was eventually terminated. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2013:
A gay man has the same rights to freedom from sexual harassment as any other person. Our client was a bouncer for a gay night club which had a highly sexualized environment. The general manager of the club grabbed many of his employees in sexually offensive ways, demanded to do drugs off of their genital organs, made comments about their bodies, and even sought nude and graphic photos from job applicants. Our client had enough and finally lodged a complaint with the owner of the club who was not gay. The owner promptly fired him. This case showed that it is not only patronizing to assume that a gay male or someone working in a sexually charged environment cannot make a claim for sexual harassment, but it can also be very costly. We settled the case to our client’s satisfaction.
This overtime class action involved janitorial staff for a real estate development and apartment management company who paid them a salary, generally less than $20,000 a year, and paid no overtime for long weeks. We settled the case to the class’ satisfaction, but the company then fired some of our class members who were then paid an additional $10,000 each. This is another example of how retaliation is far more costly than the underlying complaint.
Our clients were delivery persons for an automobile parts store. The owner refused to pay them for overtime hours and assumed that because they could not speak English, they would be unable to hire a lawyer. Our clients claimed that the owner did not even bother to track their hours. In his deposition, the owner swore that he tracked them on a yellow pad, but ripped off the sheet each week and threw it out. Later he miraculously provided a mini-pad with alleged notations which he claimed were the hours he tracked each week. We did this case pro bono (for free) and obtained for our clients a $75,000 judgment.
Our client was working for a railroad when she took FMLA leave. When she was ready to return to work, she provided the required return to work note from her doctor. But the company insisted that it would not return her to work without more personal information from her doctor. It therefore kept her out of work until the end of the case. We settled the case to her satisfaction and got her back to work.
Successes From 2012:
In an effort to give back to the legal community, we try to keep at least one pro bono (free) case in our case load at all times. Occasionally we actually have to file the case. The first case we filed in 2012 was exactly that kind. Our client was a 60 year old woman who suffered from asthma was fired from her job because she took time away from work when an ambulance took her to the hospital. We agreed to dismiss the case to go to private arbitration, and then settled the case to her satisfaction.
Aaron Maduff was heavily involved in the lobbying effort to pass amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act permitting a discrimination case to proceed in Illinois State Courts. The firm’s first such case was brought for a woman whose supervisor started commenting about her body, talking about is desire for her and having sex, and touching her inappropriately. When she complained, the company terminated her employment. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
In this case we represented a class of casino workers whose working time was “rounded” to match their actual shift time even though they often opened tables before shift started or still helped customers on the casino floor once their shifts were over. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Our client was a Vice President with a Fortune 25 company. In spite of suffering from depression and anxiety, he received stellar performance reviews and performance awards. After informing the company that he had been hospitalized because of his depression, he was targeted for termination through a barrage of harassment designed to force him to quit. He requested an accommodation but the company refused and instead piled on additional work, took away his authority, and unreasonably scrutinized his job performance. His further complaints were met with intensified harassment and eventually termination. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2011:
Our clients were loan officers across Illinois and Indiana for a well known mortgage company. In order to make the sales, they worked long hours, far longer than those for which the company was officially open. They often ate lunch at their desks and took phone calls from home. Most eventually left the company. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Our client was a Director of Sales. After he made sales, the Company retroactively changed his commission structure and refused to pay his full salary resulting in losses well into the six figures. We attempted to settle the case before filing suit. The company refused to meet our client’s demand and filed the case in court. That made all the difference and within 45 days, we settled the case to his satisfaction.
At the time he was hired, our client was told that he would have 37½ hour workweek. Later, he was moved to an hourly pay scale and his hours were increased to 8:00 am to 4:30 p.m., but he constantly worked beyond those hours and then often still had to work from home after hours. His supervisors prohibited him from recording more than 40 hours on his time cards. He continuously complained to Human Resources about not getting paid to no avail. Finally he simply started recording the hours on his time cards and he was fired. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our clients were front desk personnel from coast to coast at a national hotel chain. The hotels called them “Guest Service Managers” and paid them a salary with no overtime for hours over 40 in a week. This case is a great example of “calling someone a manager does not make it so.” We settled the case to their satisfaction.
In this case we represented three women who worked for a third party contracting agency. Our clients were told that they were not to complete time sheets with more than 40 hours per week, and were in fact disciplined for so doing. Because of the places they worked, our clients were unable to leave the workplace for lunch, but were required to always record a half hour for lunch. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Successes From 2010:
Our client worked for a company that operated fast service oil change stores. Because the company was losing money as a result of the bad economy, it switched its employees from hourly to salaried. Although he worked some 55 hours a week, he was not paid overtime. When he filed his case, the company fired him. This is another case where firing the employee for complaining of overtime hours can cost a lot more than simply settling the overtime claim. Retaliation does not pay. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client was visiting his girlfriend when several police officers broke down the door, tackled, him, and tasered (electrocuted) him several times. Despite his absolute compliance with all orders from the officers, the officers then placed the Taser against his testicles and threatened to shock him again. Although the case was brought in Idaho, we were asked to join as counsel because of our experience in civil rights law. We settled the case to our client’s satisfaction in just over three months.
This unusual case addressed the question of how to compute the number of employees in a company for purposes of the FMLA when the Plaintiff works from home. Our client was a Sales Representative for a company that placed elderly people in nursing homes. She was terminated while on FMLA leave. The company defended on the basis that it was not covered by the FMLA because although it had more than 200 sales representatives across the country working by computer, it did not have the requisite 50 employees within 75 miles of our client’s place of work. This complex issue required a two step-process to resolve. First was the question of what location qualified as our client’s place of work. Because she worked off of a computer system at the company’s home office in Seattle, we argued that this was her “place of work.” The company claimed that it still was not covered by the FMLA because it had less than 50 employed in Seattle. We then successfully argued that employees across the country also had to be counted as employed at in Seattle, because they, like our client, received their work from the same computer system. The Court denied the Motion to Dismiss the case and we settled it to our client’s satisfaction.
Upon returning from military service in Iraq, our client’s employer refused to allow him to return to work for an entire month. When the company finally allowed him to return to work, it first assigned him to different work than he had been doing before he went on military leave, and it placed him in a lower position. Even in the lower position, it failed to pay him “escalator” pay. (An employee returning from military service must be paid as if he had received all raises offered while he was one leave.) One month later, the company moved him to the less desirable night-shift, and eventually terminated him without cause. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
In this Texas overtime case, our clients were high end travel consultants who arranged international vacations for an elite clientele. The company claimed that they were exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act because they were on a salary. But the law says that an employee can only be paid a salary and no overtime if he has special discretion which our clients did not have. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Our client worked on the railroad – all the livelong day. As a result of mental pressures he took intermittent (a day here and day there as necessary) FMLA leave. But the company told him he had to take full FMLA leave (so that he had to take every day off of work until he could return.) As a result, in order to save his job, his doctor released him to return to work. The company still refused to let him return to work insisting that it needed more information from the doctor. We argued that under the law, once our client produced a “simple note” from his doctor, the company had to take him back. The company disagreed saying that because the job that our client performed was dangerous, a simple note was inadequate. The Court agreed with us and found that the company violated the Family and Medical Leave Act. Before the damages (the amount of money owed to our client) was finally determined, we settled the case to our client’s satisfaction.
Successes From 2009:
Our client was a Plant Operating Engineer. He requested intermittent FMLA leave in order to care for his father, who suffered from severe Alzheimer’s disease. A representative from Human Resources denied the requested FMLA leave on the basis of a departmental policy that prohibited more than one person per shift to be on intermittent FMLA leave at the same time. A co-worker on the same shift who had also requested leave was granted the leave because he had seniority over our client. We sought and obtained for our client a court order which required his employer to comply with the FMLA.
Our two clients were Polish immigrants who worked in a car body shop. They were denied commissions and not paid for working overtime hours. The Court entered judgment in our clients’ favor for a total of $82,689.48.
Our client was a high-level recruiter for a Fortune 500 company. She complained of sexual harassment by one of the company’s most senior employees and was shortly thereafter terminated for allegedly poor performance. This was a highly complex case that was eventually settled to her satisfaction.
This overtime and unpaid wages case involved the claims of individuals whose job was to review complex insurance policies for clients. At the start of the case, several people refused to join for fear of retaliation. As we often tell clients, companies are generally cautious not to fire people who file such claims in order to avoid the retaliation cases. Indeed, the first two people with whom we met were certain that they were going to be fired later that week. One decided that he had nothing to lose because he was going to be fired, and so we filed the case with him as a lead plaintiff. The other decided not to be a lead plaintiff because she was afraid of being fired. That week, the second person was fired, but the first was not fired because he had filed the case. Because of the size of the class, settlement negotiations were conducted by a steering committee over a three day period. The case was settled to our clients’ satisfaction.
In this remarkable case, a personnel manager was ordered to fire all the African-American employees. We filed the case on behalf of eight of those employees. Settlement was extremely complex because our clients had different emotional distress issues. The case was completed in about eight months, and was of course settled to their satisfaction.
In this particularly egregious and humiliating example of sexual harassment, a woman working for an automobile dealership was required to remove her clothes and perform sexual favors for the owner. In just over seven months we settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client worked for a hotel as a fix-it man. Instead of paying him by the hour, the hotel insisted on paying him a salary, thereby avoiding paying him overtime. It then had him working extreme hours. We settled the case to his satisfaction in less than three months.
Successes From 2008:
Our client was an Administrative Secretary for a major automobile manufacturer who worked many overtime hours in order to meet work deadlines and to avoid being terminated by the by the company. The Assistant General Manager consistently denied payment of overtime hours to her, even when the hours were approved by other managers. At one point she was threatened with discipline if she recorded more than eight hours worked on her time sheet regardless of how many hours she actually worked. Eventually she was placed on a 13-week probation and during this period, was required to attend two hour-long meetings without pay, on a weekly basis to report her work performance to managers. We settled the case to her satisfaction less than six months after filing.
In this case, we sought a court order forcing a City to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act. Our client, with thirteen years as a 911 dispatcher was diagnosed with Diabetes and approved for intermittent FMLA leave for the condition. Her overtime hours began to substantially increase and she sought to use her leave to limit them but was denied in violation for the FMLA. We settled the case to her satisfaction and she now receives the FMLA time she requires.
Our client was Vice-President for National Accounts when he requested FMLA leave to have surgery on his left knee. When that surgery was completed, he was informed that the same surgery would be needed for the right knee. Upon seeking approval for a second FMLA leave his supervisor complained of being “blind-sided,” told him that he could not do it and began seeking his replacement. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
In this reverse sex discrimination case a male employee was subjected greater scrutiny than his female co-workers. He was subject to sexually offensive remarks regarding the size of his penis and was barred from receiving administrative support, while female professional staff members were provided administrative support. When he complained about this conduct in an email sent to his supervisor, the Regional Administrator, the President & CEO, and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the companies, he was fired. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
In this unusual case settled by private mediation prior to filing in court, our client returned from FMLA leave to find that the person who had filled in for her while she was on leave had “set a higher standard for job performance.” Although our client’s prior performance evaluations lacked any complaint about her performance, her employer decided that there was more that could be done with the job than she had been doing based on the work of her temporary replacement. As a result, the employer suddenly determined that our client’s performance was inadequate, and terminated her. In so doing, however, it effectively changed her job in violation of the FMLA regulations which require the employer to restore an employee returning from FMLA leave to the same job or one that is substantially similar. This requires that the job entail equivalent skill, effort, and responsibility as the job from which she left. We settled this case to the client’s satisfaction prior to even filing in court.
Successes From 2007:
In this “off-the-clock” overtime case, our clients included eight mortgage brokers who were forced to work lengthy hours, often past midnight, but were only permitted to record eight hours on their time sheets. The case is referred to as an “off-the-clock” case because the extra hours were not recorded at all. As a result, they were not paid for the overtime they worked. We settled the case to their satisfaction less than six months after filing.
This case came to be known in our offices as “The Case of the Narcoleptic Electrician.” Our client, an electrician for a large vehicle manufacturing plant suffered bouts of narcolepsy: a disability wherein a person spontaneously falls asleep. This created concern by his employer about the safety of his working around electrical wiring. As an accommodation, our client requested that he be transferred to a section where he would work on non-live electrical projects (no electricity in use) so that he could be safe and still utilize his engineering skills. Instead, the company transferred him to a paint shop. We prevailed upon the company to assign our client electrician work as he had originally requested and settled the monetary portion of the case to his satisfaction.
This case involved two low income Spanish speaking clients, who were forced to work overtime at a local restaurant, but were paid a salary. Because of the language barrier, the clients had a difficult time finding counsel to assist them. We settled the case to their satisfaction, less than six months after filing.
In this case, our client was sued by a former employer to enjoin him from taking what it claimed was a competing job. (The company wanted the Court to order our client to give up his new job.) Cases like this where a company tries to deny a person future employment elsewhere can be very serious, particularly where that means anywhere in the country. In this case, the company was in California and our client in Florida. Keeping his job was critical. The case was settled to his satisfaction.
Our client was the Plant Manager of a manufacturing facility. His boss participated in a great deal of rough-housing including wrestling, hitting, and cutting the hair off employees’ arms with a knife including our client. Our client injured his arm on the job (unrelated to the horseplay) and had to file a worker’s compensation claim and take medical leave. Upon his return, he was still taking intermittent FMLA leave for therapy sessions. His boss complained that he had “a bad flipper,” could not be his “lunch buddy” anymore (because he had therapy in the afternoons), and commented “Oh I can’t hit you in that arm anymore” before proceeding to hit him in the other arm. In spite of numerous complaints by the Plaintiff to stop hitting him because it jarred his entire frame and caused a great deal of pain, the boss kept at it, until on one such occasion our client threw a pen down on the table and yelled at his boss to stop hitting him. The pen bounced off the table and hit the boss’ pants and our client was sent home. Our client also attempted to file a criminal charge of assault and battery for being hit. Later that day the boss received a phone call regarding the worker’s compensation claim and immediately had our client’s company cell phone disconnected and the locks changed on his door. He was officially terminated a few days later. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Sex discrimination and retaliation by the U.S. Army led to the filing of this case in 2005 after the Plaintiff lost her military status. The emotional distress led the Plaintiff to suffer rapid changes in weight and other issues of a physiological nature. This case involved a complex analysis of army regulations. Our client had begun pursuing this case through several different legal forums even before she came to us in 2005. We settled it to her satisfaction.
Our client worked for the Federal Government when she got very sick. After exhausting her FMLA leave, she requested additional extended leave. Six days into the leave extension, the leave extension was denied and she was ordered back to work. She immediately began making phone calls seeking information on how and where to return to work but had to leave messages. When she finally spoke with someone, she was told that she needed a return to work note from her doctor before she could return. The Government charged her as being absent without leave (AWOL) for 23 days and on that basis terminated her. We appealed her case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and among other things; she was offered her job back.
Our clients consisted of a group of nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants who were forced to work overtime but were paid for only 40 hours a week. We settled their cases to their satisfaction in less than 6 months.
Our client suffered an injury and took intermittent FMLA leave. But his employer did not approve the leave until several months after he had first requested it and counted numerous absences taken prior to that approval as unapproved. Although the leave was later approved, our client was terminated for excessive AWOL (Absence Without Leave) days. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client was a laser repair technician who was paid an hourly wage, but was paid only straight time for his overtime hours. Cases where the employer pays straight time for hours over 40 like this one are generally fairly easy to prove. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2006:
Our client was the Director of Information Systems for a newspaper. Upon her return from approved FMLA leave she was immediately terminated, allegedly as part of a reduction in force – a reduction of one, her – and apparently a male was subsequently promoted into her position. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client was a construction laborer who had worked for two separate companies in the last three years, both of whom refused to pay his overtime, stating that he was not eligible for it. We settled the case shortly after filing the complaint.
Our client was a coach running a team in an independent sports league. He was accused of recruiting violations when he gave a motivational speech to student athletes at a local high school. Indeed, giving motivational speeches was part of his regular work. The organization had a multi-level disciplinary procedure including a due process hearing. We presented testimony at that hearing and the following opinion was issued (the parties names and some identifying information have been redacted):
We, the appeals committee, after a thorough review find [client] innocent of any alleged recruiting violations. Furthermore we feel that the allegations were unfounded, without one shred of evidence from an eye witness. The defense produced numerous coaches and student athletes, in attendance at the session, who stated that [client] came in, introduced himself, gave a motivational speech, and left flyers for the athletes at the door. Allegations that statements by [client] to the effect that student athletes should leave their club teams and stay together and play for [client’s team], were repudiated by first-person testimony and therefore found to be unsubstantiated.
In conclusion we, the appeals committee, rule that [client] is innocent of the alleged recruiting violations and repeal the sanctions previously imposed. We thank the witnesses in attendance at the appeals meeting for their time and effort in this matter.
Our client had been a salesman in the coatings industry. After leaving his company he was accused of violating a non-compete agreement, using trade secrets, and committing computer fraud. We vociferously denied these accusations and resolved the case against him in roughly one month.
Successes From 2005:
Our client was worked for an American firm in Mexico. She was terminated in violation of provisions of the Mexican Severance Law. Under that law she was entitled to severance in the amount of three months’ pay plus 21 days for each year of service, and continued salary until the severance was paid. As a result, in addition to the severance pay, she was owed salary for the three years it took us to recover the money. To recover, suit had to be filed in Mexico. The company argued that the Mexican court could not take the case because she was no longer in Mexico. We argued that because she was working in Mexico at the time she was fired that the proper place for the case was in Mexican Court. The Mexican Court agreed with our view and awarded more than $100,000. The company also filed a case in Illinois to have a court declare that Mexican Severance Law did not apply to our client. Although in Illinois, we were technically a defendant, we were still very much in the position of trying to collect money for our client. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
This multi-plaintiff sex discrimination case was unusual in that it involved a female Executive Director discriminating against other women and then retaliating against them for filing charges of discrimination. Indeed, the Executive Director asked two of our clients why they were doing men’s jobs, and fired another for insubordination – one insubordinate act being the filing of a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Thousands of pages of documents had to be reviewed for this case and because of its size, the case actually settled in parts. We settled the case(s) to our clients’ satisfaction.
Although reverse discrimination is unusual, this case involved an African-American Base Manager of a bus company reducing routes and denying work to non-Black drivers. This was another case involving thousands of pages of documents and nearly 40 depositions. We eventually settled the case for the class.
In this combination overtime and FMLA case our client was a manual laborer who was paid a straight hourly wage for all his work. We sued to collect the half-time premiums. In addition, our client suffered a serious illness that required him to take time off of work. In late 2004 he was terminated for excessive absenteeism which he claimed was in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client complained about offensive sexual conduct in the workplace. Shortly thereafter she went took FMLA maternity leave. Upon her return, she was fired on the spot. Because of the strength of the retaliation claims, we did not pursue the underlying sexual harassment claims. Instead we filed it for violations of the FMLA and retaliatory wrongful termination. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client was a 62 year old automobile sales manager with a good performance record. The dealership promoted another Sales Manager over him who started to make a number of age biased comments including “Why don’t you just retire” and “I bet you were good when you were young” and referring to him as “Old Bill”. In spite of his complaints, the comments did not stop. Eventually, the dealership terminated him and replaced with him younger employees. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
This case started with eight Mexican laborers who were being paid a salary for what should have been hourly work. After we filed an overtime complaint nine more individuals joined the case. Much of this case was handled in Spanish with interpreters for depositions. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Successes From 2004:
In this Family and Medical Leave Act case, our client suffered from periodic migraine headaches and was forced to take intermittent medical leave. In spite of her efforts to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act, she was terminated for having failed to provide medical certification for a day she had taken leave. In spite of the fact that she provided the certification within the required time (and after having been terminated) which she did not have to do, her employer refused to rescind her termination. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client was 66 years old when his employer closed the facility where he worked. The company then rehired several younger workers to work at other facilities, but refused to rehire our client. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2003:
Our client was a 16 year-old girl working her first job as a receptionist in a pizzeria. While there, she was subjected to graphic descriptions of oral sex, constant physical touching, at least one male co-worker exposing his penis, the presence on her worktable of her manager’s collection of Playboy Magazines, and an offer from one of her co-workers to have sex with him for $5,000 (an offer her manager told her she should accept). On the eve of trial we settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client was a Complaints Manager for a moving company. He worked close to 10 hours a day 6 days a week. But was paid a salary for nearly three years and denied overtime pay. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our client was a school teacher who had a heart condition and needed certain accommodations to reduce the stress in her environment. The school refused. We settled the case to the satisfaction of the administrator of her estate after she passed.
Our client, who was Hispanic, worked for a utilities company and was terminated for having done “side jobs”, in spite of the fact that non-Hispanic employees (including a supervisor) had also done many of these side jobs and had never been disciplined. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2002:
$346,000 Jury Verdict
Our client was a marketing representative for an automobile financing company. His job was to visit automobile dealerships and buy loans they had made on cars sold. Although he met the qualifications for increased buying authority (to be able to buy larger loans), he was denied it. When he filed a race discrimination charge with the EEOC, he was fired. On April 30, 2002, a federal jury returned a verdict in our client’s favor finding both racial discrimination and retaliatory termination, and awarding him $346,000 in damages.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit for sex discrimination and Equal Pay Act violations because of actions taken against our client. Our client joined the case in her individual capacity. She was responsible for international sales for a packaging corporation, but received neither the same title nor the same pay as her male predecessor and successors. The case resulted in a consent decree (an agreed order of judgment) for $110,000.
Our client was a Muslim Imam (religious leader) from India and was at the time of his case working on obtaining his U.S. citizenship. (He is now a U.S. Citizen.) He worked for a package delivery service as a delivery truck loader with the hope of becoming a driver. (Coming from his situation in India, obtaining a job as a driver with a respected company was a “dream come true” for him.) After being approved as a driver and fitted for a driver’s uniform when he was told that he would have to shave his beard (which his religious principles forbid). When he refused to shave his beard he was denied the driver position. Not only did we settle this case to his satisfaction, but we also had the honor of being present at his U.S. citizenship swearing ceremony.
Our client was a laborer who was not paid overtime. When a customer noticed and told him that he was owed overtime, he requested it of his employer. The employer responded by requiring him to sign an agreement to work overtime hours for regular pay (which is an illegal and unenforceable agreement). When he refused, the employer terminated him. In spite of numerous efforts to obtain the money owed him through negotiation, the Defendant forced us to file the case in Court. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2001:
Administrative Trial Verdict — $56,000
It is unusual for us to include Human Rights Commission cases in these success pages. However, this case created new law on disability harassment. Our client, a city bus driver, was caught in a bus fire. Although he survived the fire, he suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder. After much counseling, he attempted to return to work, but was called “crazy” by his boss, and told that he “should have died in that fire”. When he came to us, he already had a case pending in the Illinois Human Rights Commission for Disability Harassment. This case did not settle in large measure because it was unclear whether the Illinois Human Rights Act covered disability harassment (though it covers sexual and racial harassment) and went to trial before the Commission. That trial resulted in a verdict on August 30, 2001 for our client which for the first time clearly acknowledged that disability harassment is prohibited by the Human Rights Act. It also resulted in the Defendant paying our client more than $56,000.
Our clients were eight eighth grade boys who filed suit against a police officer for strip searching them and their entire gym class in search of $47. (The money was never found.) Based on the testimony in more than 20 depositions and written documentation, the Court found liability in favor of our clients without the need for trial. Throughout the course of this case there was significant media attention including several newspapers. The case went to a three week trial on the question of damages only and eventually resulted in a settlement to our clients’ satisfaction.
Our client was a server at a chain restaurant. In spite of the fact that both her managers and co-workers had met her husband, several cooks made a practice of slapping her buttocks and one male server continually rubbed his groin against her as he grabbed her around the stomach. The result of the sexual harassment was not only humiliating, but debilitating. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client, a white male living in a relatively affluent suburb of Chicago, was arrested for driving under the influence. Despite blowing a 0.00 on a breathalyzer and then taking blood and urine tests which also showed that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he was prosecuted for a myriad of crimes over a period of 14 months. He was later arrested again by the same department for no reason and threatened and harassed over a period of two years. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Successes From 2000 And Earlier:
Our client was a social worker for the Department of supportive services. Her work required her to do a great deal of driving. However, because of an accident that had happened several years earlier, she suffered from severe back injuries, making extended periods of sitting very painful, and made walking even short distances difficult. Although she requested several accommodations from the department, including an ergonomically correct work station and a geographic adjustment for her caseload to lessen her driving requirements (which had been as much as four hours per day), the Department refused, causing her to take medical leave and eventually quitting. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client, an African-American, had been an employee of a U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory for more than 20 years working his way up from cafeteria worker while in high school, to nuclear scientist and safety instructor. In 1994 the Laboratory hired a white male to work with him, with the same job classification and a salary of $20,000 more per year. We settled the case to his satisfaction.
Our clients alleged that they were sitting at home watching television when ten police officers broke into their apartment and arrested them for possession of heroin. At the time, the officers seized a plastic bag containing 240 grams of a white powdery substance. Neither man was able to make bail and they remained in jail. Seven days later, laboratory tests on the substance came back as non-dairy coffee creamer. However, rather than releasing them immediately, they were left in jail for more than 20 more days until the next court hearing. We settled the case to their satisfaction.
Cases were also settled while pending before the EEOC and IDHR.
Our client, a high school sophomore, was selected to join her High School's elite marching band. Prior to the start of the school year, in August of 1996, she attended a band sponsored trip to central Illinois. Her allegations included, among other things, that during that trip she was subjected to numerous indignities culminating in a ritualistic KKK style induction ceremony complete with a bonfire and people dressed in white robes and masks. We settled the case to her satisfaction.
Our client had been a computer analyst for division of a major U.S. firm. He was suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a condition which caused him to wake up several times each minute while sleeping at night, resulting in lack of sleep, and causing him to fall asleep while at work. His claim was that upon learning that he had this disability, and that he was in the process of getting treatment for it, his employer terminated his employment. We settled the case to his satisfaction.