Where the plaintiff was subjected to repeated investigation and termination after assisting another employee with litigation, summary judgment was improperly granted to the employer on the plaintiff’s retaliation claim.
“When viewed as a comprehensive whole, Hobgood’s evidence easily supports a reasonable inference that he was the victim of a retaliatory witch hunt. He first presents evidence of statements that, although arguably ambiguous, nonetheless could allow a reasonable jury to infer retaliation if placed in their relevant context and given the benefit of favorable inferences. Consider
general counsel Fries’s admonition to Hartigan, before his investigation had even begun, that the Gaming Board ‘wants discharge to be considered as the first option.’ Perhaps it is true, as defendants argue, that Fries’s statement standing alone does not create an inference about why the Gaming Board wanted Hobgood fired, though this extraordinary departure from policy and custom could, if believed by the jury, support adverse inferences about the defendants’ motives.”
Reversed and Remanded.
11-1926 Hobgood v. Illinois Gaming Board
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Pallmeyer, J., Hamilton, J.