Vega v. Chicago Park District, No. 19-1926 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Vega, a Hispanic woman, began her employment with the Chicago Park District in 1987 and was promoted to the position of park supervisor in 2004. In 2012, an anonymous caller accused Vega of clocking in hours that she had not worked. The District had investigators watch Vega for 56 days. The investigators interrupted Vega at work; Vega’s union representative found them to be “pretty dead set” on finding that Vega had violated the Code of Conduct. Suffering from “significant anxiety,” Vega took medical leave on the advice of her physician. Ultimately, Vega was fired for timesheet falsifications and for being untruthful during her Corrective Action Meetings. The District did not offer Vega’s union a pre-disciplinary agreement. A Personnel Board officer upheld Vega’s termination.
Vega sued under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging discrimination on the basis of national origin. A jury awarded her $750,000 in compensatory damages but rejected Vega’s retaliation claims. The district court overturned the verdict on the section 1983 claim and remitted the compensatory award to $300,000, Title VII’s maximum; awarded Vega back pay and benefits, plus a tax-component award of $55,924.90; and ordered the District to reinstate Vega. The Seventh Circuit affirmed except for the grant of the tax-component award, which it vacated and remanded for the district court to explain its calculation.