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    Seventh Circuit Rejects Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

    laid off

    In “No Pretext: Wisconsin Employers Win Federal Appeals in Discrimination Cases” (InsideTrack, March 4, 2020), Joe Forward wrote that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in a pair of recent decisions, rejected discrimination and retaliation claims brought against employers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

    In the cases, the employee alleged that the employer provided pretextual reasons for taking discriminatory action. Those arguments were rejected in both cases, one involving a state agency and the other involving a health insurance company.

    A reader posted a comment.

    Reader: Based purely on the summaries of the decisions, it appears to me that the opinions of the courts were quite proper. As I have often told potential clients – particularly those whose cases I have opted not to take – your boss being a jerk, in and of itself, is not unlawful. The boss must be a jerk “because of” (two vital words) the employee’s protected-class status.

    As I was instructed about 28 years ago, by the person who is now the Metro Nashville Davidson Chief of Police, “the law ain’t about what’s fair, it’s about what’s legal.” Real discrimination does still occur in the workplace, but not every negative employment experience is a matter of discrimination. Sometimes life is not fair, or, in the alternative, the employee actually is substandard. Facts matter.

    Tim Kittle
    Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig, Tulsa, Okla.

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    Remembering and Celebrating Wisconsin’s Black Lawyers

    Vel Phillips

    In “Remembering Wisconsin’s Black Lawyers” (Wisconsin Lawyer, May 2019), Celia Jackson wrote that the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers is compiling a history of Black lawyers in Wisconsin. In the article, Jackson invited readers’ help in recounting that story, and said she hoped the memories she shared in the article would spur memories from readers.

    A reader posted a comment.

    [Editor’s Note: The History of Wisconsin’s Black Lawyers 2019 is now available at wisbar.org/aboutus/legalhistory.]

    Reader: What a great article about the history and contributions to the State of Wisconsin by its Black lawyers. Celia Jackson is to be commended.

    I met my first Black person at the age of 10 in 1958 at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. His name was Andrew R. Reneau. I still recall him shaking my hand and saying don’t worry son, it’s not going to rub off on you. He went on to become Wisconsin’s first Black family court commissioner. Little did I know that 34 years later, he would be my boss in the family court commissioners’ office.

    Mr. Reneau was a remarkable man. He commanded the respect of the entire legal community. From him I learned firsthand about the insidious discrimination he experienced when he came to Beloit from Mississippi. He told me that one night the Ku Klux Klan terrorized his family by burning a cross on their lawn.

    When he was a young educated Black man, he had to do manual labor in the factory while less qualified white men were allowed to work in the office.

    Finally, thanks to Chief Judge Michael T. Sullivan, the first circuit court judge in Milwaukee County to resign from the Eagles Club, and with the recommendation of Judge John F. Foley, Mr. Reneau became the head court commissioner for the Family Court.

    The Hon. Andrew R. Reneau has left us with a rich legacy. His exemplary legal career has paved the way for young lawyers, by providing them with a pathway to becoming successful attorneys. I was very blessed to have had him as my boss. Wisconsin and its legal community are better places because of the numerous contributions of the Black attorneys and jurists.

    Joseph D. Frinzi
    Scottsdale, Ariz.

    Directory Helps Lawyers Consult With Peers

    talking on phone

    In “Lawyer-to-Lawyer Directory: Where Nearly 400 Lawyers Have Your Back” (InsideTrack, Jan. 17, 2018), the State Bar reminded members that the directory is a free, online resource for Wisconsin lawyers. It lists lawyers willing to spend 10 minutes to help colleagues answer practice and career questions.

    The article explained the origins and intent behind the directory, how to use it, and how active members can include themselves in the directory. To search for a lawyer or to get listed, visit wisbar.org/lawyertolawyer. You can also find the directory on WisBar.org, by clicking on “Directories” at the very top of the page (near “Lawyer Search” and “Legal Research”).

    A reader recently posted a question, asking if there is a place from which the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Directory can be printed for future use, so as to not use the website.

    Response: While there is no way to print a full listing of Lawyer-to-Lawyer attorneys at this time, searching by topic will display all attorneys and their contact information for that particular area of practice. This listing is printable from the webpage. We moved away from a static print directory a few years ago to ensure users have the most up-to-date list of volunteer attorneys and their contact information.

    Peter Kraemer
    State Bar Digital Communications Coordinator




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