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Religious Discrimination Still Exists Says Chicago Employment Lawyer

Religious Discrimination Still Exists Says Chicago Employment Lawyer

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Published by Law Firm Newswire
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) March 28, 2012

This case was a long battle to make a religious statement, which was the woman’s right to begin with.
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) March 28, 2012

This case was a long battle to make a religious statement, which was the woman’s right to begin with.

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Published by: Law Firm Newswire on Apr 23, 2012
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Law Firm Newswire
Attorney Press Releases and Legal Newshttp://www.lawfirmnewswire.com
Religious Discrimination Still Exists Says Chicago EmploymentLawyer
Chicago, IL (
) March 28, 2012 -
This case was a long battle to make a religious statement,which was the woman’s right to begin with.“In SHORELINE TOWERS CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION v. Debra GASSMAN, Gassman hadmounted a mezuzah to the door post of her condo. The Association took exception to that, saying itviolated the rules about putting personal objects in common areas, which included halls and doorways.The Association kept removing the mezuzah when she put it back up,” outlined Timothy Coffey, aChicagoemployment lawyerand principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firmdedicated to representing employees in the workplace.Annoyed, Gassman filed numerous lawsuits alleging religious discrimination, including one with the AttorneyGeneral of the State of Illinois, which was closed, as the Association changed its rules to allow religious objectsto be displayed in common areas. She also filed religious discrimination complaints with the City of ChicagoCommission on Human Relations and launched a case in the United States District Court for the NorthernDistrict of Illinois.In 2005, the city of Chicago amended its Fair Housing Ordinance, banning condominium associations frommeddling in the religious observances of tenants. In 2006, the state brought a similar law into existence, butadded that condo boards were not allowed to interfere with the mounting of religious objects on the front-doorarea of a unit. 765 ILCS 605/18.4(h) (West 2008).In 2007, the Condo Association filed a complaint against tenant Gassman, suggesting she carried on acampaign of intimidation and harassment, using her position as an attorney, to get a favorable outcome forherself. “They suggested her behavior interfered with the proper administration of their property and had earnedthem the inaccurate label of being anti-Semitic. Interestingly, the condo manager has a crucifix on the dooroutside his unit,” Coffey added.The Condo Association complaint listed ten counts: request for an injunction, defamation, injunctive relief to stopGassman defaming them, defamation against the property manager, injunctive relief to stop defamation againstthe manager, intentional infliction of emotional distress on the manager, injunctive relief to stop Gassman fromcausing said distress, allegations of conspiracy to use her position to her advantage with police, alleged spitefulprosecution for filing suits after her complaint was dismissed by Department of Human Rights, and allegationsshe used her position as an attorney in violation of section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 1983(2006)) (count X).Gassman filed to dismiss the motion, and it went to appeal. Gassman argued the Condo Association’scomplaint should be discharged according to the Illinois Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation Act(Anti-SLAPP). That Act states, in brief, that the constitutional rights of citizens to be involved in the process ofgovernment must be encouraged. 735 ILCS 110/5 (West 2008)Gassman stated she originally filed her claim as she believed she was the victim of religious discrimination whenthe Condo management kept removing her mezuzah. It appears her complaint resulted in the amendment of theCondo Associations rules, and in retaliation the Association filed their ten-count complaint.Four Counts seek an injunction against Gassman's right of association and speech. The balance of the countsseeks damages as a result of activities protected by statute: speech, association, exercise of religious freedom,and petitioning the government.Gassman stood up for her rights and was successful in defending them. The court suggested the associationcounts were a strategic lawsuit against public participation, and there was not much in the way of case lawdealing with this kind of suit. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss.page 1 / 2

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