Woman claims Chicago law firm rescinded job offer over her support for Palestinians

Maher Kawash Image
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Woman says firm rescinded job offer over her support for Palestinians
Foley and Lardner Chicago rescinded a job offer for Jinan Chehade at their River North office over her comments on Hamas-Israel war, she claims.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A woman from Chicago said she feels like this is a case of discrimination because of her faith.

She said she was shocked to be let go from Foley & Lardner in River North just a day before she says she was supposed to start her job.

The Arab-American woman is now taking legal action against the Foley & Lardner law firm for allegedly discriminating against her when they rescinded her job offer.

Jinan Chehade is a Georgetown Law School graduate who had been interning with that firm when, she said, they offered her a full-time position about a year ago. She said she was set to start that job in late October.

But, right before her first day on the job, she said, she was called into a meeting with the head partners.

"They interrogated me in a hostile manner about my social media posts related to Palestine, about my involvement with Students for Justice in Palestine and other aspects of my identity and background," Chehade said.

Chehade said the law firm also pulled up a video of her public comment at a city council meeting on Oct. 13, when she asked aldermen to vote against an Israeli resolution to condemn Hamas' attack on Gaza.

"I spoke in public comments, as is my First Amendment right. I made a three-minute speech, saying the resolution was one-sided and made no mention of Palestinians," Chehade said. "My posts advocated for Palestinian rights, ending the occupation and upholding international law."

Chehade said it's emotionally painful for her and has caused some financial struggles, as she rented an apartment next to the law firm. She says she can no longer afford it.

She believes the treatment to her isn't the same as others at the law firm.

"They framed my advocacy for Palestinian rights as supporting terrorism, which is a racist smear with no factual basis, when support for Palestinian rights is about freedom and equality," Chehade said.

The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is now helping her pursue legal action against the law firm.

"We're very clear in what we stand for. We stand for the human civil rights of everyday human beings: men, women and children," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.

ABC7 reached out Foley and Lardner multiple times today for comment but have not heard back.

Chehade's lawyers said they are pursuing discrimination and equal opportunity claims against the law firm, which they said will be followed by an official lawsuit.

A Foley spokesperson issued a statement to ABC7, saying, "In the face of rising anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and acts of hatred towards Israelis and Palestinians, Foley & Lardner's foremost commitment is - and has been - to our people. Led by our Core Values, there is no room for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism or any other form of violence, hatred, or bigotry at the firm. Prior to what would have been Ms. Chehade's start date in October, the firm learned that she had made public statements about the horrendous attacks by Hamas on October 7 that were inconsistent with our Core Values. After a discussion with Ms. Chehade, we made the decision to rescind her offer of employment. The firm remains committed to fostering an environment where people of differing political, religious, and social beliefs feel included, safe, and supported."