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Northern District of Illinois Judge Dismisses Wage and Hour Claim, Allows Harassment Claim to Move Forward in Vince v. Illinois Central School Bus, LLC

It is not unusual for several different areas of employment law to intersect in one case. For instance, one case might have a wage and hour claim and discrimination claims. While wage and hour claims are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), discrimination and sexual harassment are governed by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. An employee who believes that he or she was the victim of discrimination can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Otherwise, someone with a wage and discrimination complaint could hire an Illinois wage and hour attorney to litigate both claims at the same time.

In Vince v. Illinois Central School Bus, LLC, the plaintiff sued the defendant for unpaid wages under the FLSA and Illinois wage laws. Plaintiff Regina Vince worked as an hourly employee at Illinois Central School Bus from 2004 to 2007, where her duties included setting up and administering a computer billing system for a large busing contract, setting up and working on an accounting system, developing a reporting system, preparing contract bids, and more. Plaintiff alleges that she worked 12-hour days, seven days a week for three years of her employment. Although she complained about it, nothing was done, and she received no overtime compensation. Even worse, plaintiff claims that from 2004 onward, her boss sexually harassed her. He allegedly tried to coax her to have sex with him, then later engaged in acts that included brushing his hands across her breasts and making sexual jokes, innuendos, and remarks to her. After plaintiff told him to stop in 2006, her work duties supposedly changed. Other employees were hired to perform functions that plaintiff had hitherto performed herself. Plaintiff believed that defendant was trying to replace her. Plaintiff and defendant disputed whether plaintiff resigned or was terminated. Defendant sought to have the case dismissed.

Judge Harry Leinenweber of the Northern District of Illinois considered each charge. He first looked at the discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation claims. He dismissed plaintiff’s gender discrimination claim because she did not provide enough evidence. A plaintiff could establish gender discrimination through the direct method (through direct or circumstantial evidence) or the indirect method (showing that the plaintiff belonged to a protected class and similarly situated people outside of her class were treated better). Plaintiff had no direct evidence and could not name a similarly situated male employee who received better treatment. However, Judge Leinenweber felt that plaintiff had provided enough evidence of sexual harassment to make a basic case that required defendant’s rebuttal before the court could decide whether it should be dismissed.

The judge then looked at plaintiff’s wage claims. Because plaintiff never submitted evidence that she worked beyond the hours on her time sheet — 40 hours — Judge Leinenweber felt that the court should not infer those overtime hours. The judge therefore dismissed plaintiff’s wage claims.

The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips. The Chicago Overtime Law Center has offices conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois. If you live in Illinois and have a wage and hour dispute, contact a Belleville overtime attorney today at 312-869-4095.