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Wood River Refinery Former Worker Files Discrimination Lawsuit – Timothy Coffey, Chicago Employment Lawyer

May 5, 2016

Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) May 5, 2016 – Phillips 66 is facing an age and gender discrimination lawsuit in relation to the Wood River refinery.

The defendant in this lawsuit, Kimberly Helbig, asserts she was terminated from her position as a coker operator and that supervisors would threaten and make intimidating remarks to her because she was the only female in that position.

Further allegations in the statement of claim included Helbig’s transfer from her regular supervisor to another supervisor, who allegedly stated she was “making everyone uncomfortable” and was “running out of options.”

Helbig’s statement of claim also includes examples of alleged discrimination such as hiding her clothing and equipment, male workers deliberately using the female restroom, male workers not reprimanded for using radios while she faced censure, co-workers hiding her means of transportation around the plant and removing the seat from the transport bike.

The plaintiff filed a complaint with the Phillips 66 Human Resources department, but the matter was not resolved. Helbig felt she was being harassed but said nothing further due to a fear of retaliation. Subsequently she was put on disciplinary suspension pending an investigation. The plaintiff asserted she received a disciplinary letter suggesting she stop complaining or she risked losing her job. She was fired in April 2015.

The plaintiff’s case was dismissed by the Illinois Department of Human Rights in December, suggesting there was no substantial evidence to support Helbig’s accusations. Helbig opted to retain an employment attorney to pursue the claim.

The law relating to discrimination in Illinois states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on:
· Sexual orientation
· Gender related identity
· Military status
· Ancestry
· Citizenship status
· Sex
· National origin
· Color
· Race
· Age (40 and over)
· Unfavourable military discharge
· Mental, physical or perceived disability

“Illinois state law also states that aiding and abetting discrimination, by allowing it to happen, is illegal. In this case, if the lawsuit is able to prove discrimination was present in Helbig’s workplace and that co-workers aided and abetted in its continuance, she may win her case,” said Chicago employment attorney Timothy Coffey, not involved in this case.

It is important to note that Illinois also has an anti-discrimination statue that applies to some smaller businesses not covered by federal law for claims of retaliation, sexual harassment and age only.

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