7th Circuit affirms lower court in appeal over firing

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a bank did not violate a woman’s rights by terminating her employment because of her husband’s immigration status.

In  Kristi J. Cortezano v. Salin Bank & Trust Company, No. 11-1631, Kristin Cortezano appealed a ruling from the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. The District Court had granted summary judgment in favor of Salin Bank & Trust Company in Cortezano’s complaint against the company.

Cortezano worked for Salin Bank while married to a Mexican man who lived in Indiana but did not have proper authorization to be in the United States. When her husband wanted to start a business, Cortezano helped him open bank accounts with Salin. But the business venture floundered and Cortezano’s husband returned to Mexico to sort out his immigration status.

Cortezano told her supervisor about her husband’s status, and the supervisor told Salin’s security officer, Mike Hubbs. In an initial meeting with Cortezano, Hubbs surmised that the husband must have used fraudulent documents to open the bank accounts and he told Cortezano he would file an internal suspicious activity report.

Salin ultimately fired Cortezano, and she argued that her termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, held that Salin fired Cortezano because of her husband’s immigration status, not because of his race or national origin. It affirmed the District Court in all regards and remanded to strike from the record the names of Cortezano’s three children, as the District Court had not previously ruled on that motion.



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