Employment Discrimination and Harassment Claims and Punitive Damages!

Many employers, plaintiffs, and their attorneys will be interested in a recent Ruling in the Crittenden v. Cook County Commission on Human Rights Ruling relating to punitive damages.  A former employee sued for discrimination and sexual harassment under the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The Cook County Human Rights Commission (CCHRC) ruled in favor of the former employee and awarded lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.  However, the Employer appealed the award of punitive damages.  The Employer asserted that the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance (CCHRO) and the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) do not explicitly authorize the CCHRC to award punitive damages.

Although it has long been understood that Title VII allows punitive damages, but with caps or limits based on the number of employees; there is no such analogous provision under the CCHRO or the IHRA.  Thus, the Plaintiff or employee had to make a common law based claim for punitive damages.  However, the CCHRC does not have such common law powers.  The CCHRC’s administrative authority does not include the inherent common law powers of circuit or district court judges.

Consequently, the Employer was able to have the award of punitive damages stricken. If you have any concerns or questions, then please contact a Chicago business, corporate, or employment law attorney.

To find out more go to:  Crittenden Opinion

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