The City has a right to challenge both the liability determination (i.e., that the 1995 test was discriminatory) and the remedy (i.e., that we are entitled to 132 jobs and back pay) in this appeal.
CHICAGO - Teresa Oceguera filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago on May 7, 2007 against her former employer, Rose Packing Company of Barrington, Illinois, alleging that the company illegally fired her because she went to Mexico to care for her dying father. Oceguera is represented by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a non-profit civil rights organization, and by the law firm of Cornfield & Feldman, which is donating its time pro bono to the case.
Ms. Oceguera alleges in the suit that she was given permission by Rose Packing to take leave to care for her father prior to her departure. However, once in Mexico, Ms. Oceguera was informed by the company that she had been terminated. Ms. Oceguera quickly returned to Chicago from Mexico in an unsuccessful effort to save her job. Soon thereafter, her father died.
The lawsuit seeks Ms. Oceguera’s reinstatement to her prior position, lost pay, and compensatory and punitive damages. Employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a parent or other immediate family member with a serious health condition under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
For over 35 years, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, through its 40-plus member law firms and staff, has fought to eliminate discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Staff attorney Matt Ginsburg, whose position is funded by the Skadden Fellowship Program, focuses specifically on the challenges faced by immigrant workers in the workplace. For more information about the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, contact Clyde Murphy or Matt Ginsburg at (312) 630-9744 or visit www.clccrul.org.
Cornfield & Feldman has specialized in the representation of workers and their unions for over 40 years. The firm’s practice involves counseling unions, presenting educational programs to their members and staff and representing unions in contract negotiations, arbitrations, state and federal administrative proceedings, and in state and federal trial and appellate courts. In addition, the firm represents employees in cases involving their individual contracts with their employers, in discrimination cases arising from the state and federal civil rights laws, and in cases to enforce state and federal labor standards statutes.
In August 2005, Lolita Lindo contacted the Fair Housing Project of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights to report a potentially discriminatory ad. While searching for apartments, Ms. Lindo encountered a sign posted in the window of 2453 N. California in Chicago, IL, which read, "FOR RENT, for two persons - apt. 2 bedroom, No kids, No dog, III Floor - 1500 SQ" (emphasis in original). In November 2005, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) about the ad and in August 2006 Ms. Lindo filed a second complaint with HUD about the same ad. After an investigation, HUD has charged Janusz Godlewski, owner and landlord for the property, with "advertising in a discriminatory manner in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604".
HUD details the impact of such discriminatory ads in the Charge of Discrimination. It states, "As a result of the Respondent's discriminatory conduct, an unknown number of prospective tenants with children were discouraged from seeking a rental opportunity at the subject property because of the discriminatory language 'No kids' on Respondent's rental sign, frustrating Complainant's mission to promote diverse and equal housing in the Chicago metropolitan area."
The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights is represented by Bryan Lytton of Latham & Watkins LLP.