Ortiz v. Werner Enters., Inc., No. 15-2574 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Ortiz worked as a freight broker for Werner Enterprises for seven years until his discharge in 2012. Werner claims that it fired Ortiz for falsifying business records. Ortiz claims that Werner fired him because of his Mexican ethnicity and sued Werner under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s summary judgment rejection of the claims. A reasonable juror could infer that managers did not like Hispanics and tried to pin heavy losses on Ortiz to force him out and also might infer that, because of Ortiz’s ethnicity, Werner’s managers fired him for using techniques that were tolerated when practiced by other brokers. It is also possible that a jury might not credit Ortiz’s evidence and could accept Werner’s explanations. Given the conflict on material issues, a trial is necessary.