We are thrilled to report that last week we won a significant victory in the the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of one of our clients.

More than three years ago, our client filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that she had been terminated in retaliation for her report of sexual harassment.  Specifically, she alleged that she reported that a manager had sexually harassed a young female subordinate at his cabin during a work retreat and that, as a result of her report, the company was forced to terminate him.  However, just one day after the harasser was terminated, the employer initiated an investigation into the plaintiff’s conduct several months prior and, ultimately, terminated her as well.

The lower court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment – ruling that the evidence supported the employer’s asserted justification for the termination and that there was no genuine issue of material fact from which a jury could determine that our client’s termination was retaliatory. Ms. Sedey appealed that decision in January of 2017 and argued in the United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit in February of 2018 – asking the appellate court to reverse that decision based on a number of factors.

First, our client had presented evidence indicating that the employer had learned of her alleged misconduct months prior to her report of sexual harassment, but failed to investigate or take any other disciplinary action at that time.  Indeed, it was only after our client reported sexual harassment and the company was forced to terminate the harasser that the investigation began.

Next, we also offered evidence suggesting that the harasser was treated more favorably than our client.  Specifically, they were both terminated for alleged policy violations but only he was given a sizeable severance package at the time of his allegedly disciplinary termination. Our client, by contrast, was terminated without severance.

Finally, we pointed out that the employer has offered inconsistent and conflicting testimony regarding important facts and timing which could reasonably lead a jury to believe that the company was being dishonest about its reasons for our client’s termination.

The Seventh Circuit agreed that, when these pieces of evidence were considered as a whole, there was more than enough to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the employer terminated our client in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.  As a result, the appellate court reversed the summary judgment decision has remanded the case back to the lower court for a trial.

We could not be happier for our client who was unjustly terminated more than four years ago now and has been steadfast in her pursuit of justice as she has patiently awaited her day in court.  We also could not be more proud of Kate Sedey for her success in the appellate court.

To read the full appellate decision, click here.