College Refused to Hire Adjunct Professor for Full-Time Position Because of Her Age, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO - City Colleges of Chicago will pay $60,000 to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Harold Washington College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago system, of refusing to hire Nancy Sullivan, an adjunct professor, for a full-time faculty position because of her age (66). Sullivan had worked as an adjunct professor in the English department for five years before applying for the full-time faculty position. Despite her stellar record as an adjunct and excellent recommendations from several full-time faculty members, Sullivan was passed over in favor of two substantially younger and less experienced candidates, the EEOC said.
Failing to hire a candidate based on age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit against City Colleges on July 31, 2014, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC v. City Colleges of Chicago d/b/a Harold Washington College, Civil Action No. 14-cv-05864, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and Judge Ellis entered the consent decree resolving the litigation.
"As this case makes clear, making employment decisions based on age is illegal," said EEOC Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour. "The consent decree settling this suit puts in place measures aimed at ensuring that age does not factor into future employment decisions at City Colleges."
Gochanour noted, however, that this is not the first time the EEOC has sued City Colleges for age discrimination. In 2006, the EEOC sued City Colleges challenging an employment decision strikingly similar to the employment decision in the present case. In that case - EEOC v. City Colleges of Chicago, Civil Action No. 06-cv-4346, the EEOC charged that City Colleges violated the ADEA by refusing to hire another one of its adjunct instructors in its English department for a full-time faculty position. The earlier case was also settled by consent decree.
Gochanour said, It is the EEOC's hope that this time around, City Colleges will be vigilant and will not let discrimination infect its employment decisions going forward."
Julie Bowman, district director of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, added, "We are gratified that vigorous enforcement on the Commission's part has led to appropriate corrective action and compensation for Ms. Sullivan."
In addition to providing for the $60,000 in monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit mandates that City Colleges train its employees on age discrimination and report to EEOC any complaints of age discrimination it receives.
The EEOC's trial team was composed of Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour, Supervisory Trial Attorney Deborah Hamilton, and Trial Attorney Laurie Elkin. The underlying discrimination charge was investigated by EEOC Enforcement Supervisor Nanisa Pereles and Investigator Grace Swierczek.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.