A teacher whose one-year contract with a school district was not renewed filed a lawsuit against the school district alleging retaliatory discharge, First Amendment retaliation and national origin discrimination. The Seventh Circuit reversed the ruling of the lower court dismissing the teacher’s national origin discrimination claims, although it affirmed the dismissal of her retaliatory discharge and First Amendment retaliation claims. The Court found that the Polish teacher’s national origin discrimination claim could survive summary judgment because her testimony regarding her supervisor’s alleged discriminatory remarks about Polish people could serve as circumstantial evidence of national origin discrimination. The Court noted that these remarks alone would not constitute sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment, but that the remarks in conjunction with the adverse employment action would be sufficient. While the lower court found the teacher’s testimony to be “self-serving,” the Seventh Circuit opined that a reasonable jury might find this testimony convincing. Additionally, Seventh Circuit disagreed with the lower court that the passage of time between the anti-Polish remarks and the non-renewal eliminated a causal connection between the incidents, and further opined that the issue of time and causal connection was one properly put before a jury.

Darchak v. City of Chicago Bd. of Educ., 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 19849 (7th Cir. 2009).