Hicks v. Forest Preserve Dist. of Cook County, Ill., No 11-1124 (April 18, 2012) N.D. Ill., E. Div. AffirmedRecently, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's verdict in favor of a plaintiff-employee in an action alleging that his employer demoted him in retaliation for having participated in an investigation of his co-worker's discrimination claim, as well as for filing his own discrimination claim.The record showed that Hick's supervisor (Thompson) told others that Hicks and his co-worker needed to be "gotten rid of" because they had lodged discrimination claims against said Thompson. The record also showed that Hick's demotion resulted in $9 per hour reduction in pay, which was sufficiently material so as to constitute actionable adverse act. The fact that the supervisor's remark was made 22 months prior to plaintiff's termination did not require a different result where the substance of the statement constituted direct evidence of retaliation. Moreover, the fact that the supervisor and the plaintiff did not enjoy an ideal working relationship did not preclude the Dist. Ct. from ordering that plaintiff be reinstated to his old position under the supervisor. http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/HE0N2GZN.pdf
In this economy, employment gaps can be a difficult obstacle to confront. The following are some tips about handling such gaps.
Keep active. It is easier to minimize the appearance of any gap if you stay active. These are some examples of how you can do that:
- Work With Your Current Employer, if possible. While your current employer may not be able to afford you in a full time capacity, perhaps your employer has a part-time position, consulting work, or periodic assignments that you can do until you land your next job.
- Volunteer. Challenging and appropriate volunteer work can help to fill the gaps in your resume. Make sure the type of work develops your skill sets and your networks. For instance, serving as president of a board is likely more beneficial to your resume and career than other service opportunities.
- Create a Small Business. Become a consultant using your skills; make and market goods (instead of buying from Etsy, become a vendor); design an iPhone application; develop marketing materials for businesses; or cater. The sky is the limit.
- Education. Take courses, go back to school, and keep your skills current.
Network. It is a good idea to maintain your professional contacts through an employment gap. People move, find new jobs, and retire. You do not want to lose contact with your best references and contacts. One way to maintain your network is to stay active in professional associations. Do not stop at membership, though, attend meetings and conferences and take advantage of other opportunities that the association offers.
Spending time, keeping your skills, education, and network active helps keep your resume active and can be invaluable in finding the next position.
Antoinette Choate was invited to speak on employment law (focusing on employee rights) at the Chicago Public Library as part of a joint program with the Chicago Bar Association. The Law at the Library program is designed to offer free legal information on today’s hot legal issues. Each Law at the Library program features a presentation by an experienced attorney, followed by a brief question-and-answer session.
On Tuesday, April 3, at 7 p.m., Antoinette Choate addressed an audience at Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Avenue.
On Thursday, April 12, at 6:30-7:30 p.m. she will speak to an audience at Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted Street.Her final presendation for the series will be on Monday, April 16 at 12:15 p.m. at Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street.