United States District Court, Northern Illinois District, Eastern Division (March 2011)
Our client filed a lawsuit of sexual harassment and retaliation against her former employer in federal district court in Chicago. She had been fired after reporting sexual harassment by a male coworker pulled an object resembling a male's private part from his crotch area and dragged it across her left cheek and lips. She complained to several members of management who did nothing. During one of her complaints, the supervisor laughed, walked away and did nothing. Within about three days after her complaints, she was accused of having been rude to her sexual harasser's cousin. The coworker who harassed her then obtained statements from other employees who claimed that they observed her being rude to her harasser's cousin. The harasser then presented the statements and discussed the issue with his boss who directed him to fire our client. She was then terminated for having been rude to the cousin of the coworker that sexually harassed her.
The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss our client's case. The employer claimed that the actions by the alleged harasser were not sufficiently significant to constitute sexual harassment. They also argued that our client was properly terminated for creating a hostile work environment for her harasser's cousin. We filed our response asking that the judge sustain the case. We argued that rubbing a fake male private part across a female employee's face is sufficiently significant to amount to sexual harassment under the law. We also argued that the real reason for her termination was her many complaints about sexual harassment. Furthermore, the individual who harassed her was the key figure in obtaining witness statements and presenting them to manager who directed that our client be terminated. His motive for trying to get our client fired, we claimed, was due to the fact that our client complained about his harassing conduct.
The presiding Honorable Judge rejected the employer's arguments, agreed with us and denied the employer's motion in its entirely, awarding our client a victory and a jury trial in her case. A jury trial is set to occur in federal court on December 2011.