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Patricia C. Benassi


Peoria, Illinois

Retired as of June 30, 2016

Patricia C. Benassi has lived and practiced law in central Illinois for the past 36 years.  Originally from California, she moved to Illinois in 1968 with her husband, A. Lou Benassi, whom she met and married while in law school.

Ms. Benassi received a Bachelors degree in political science from California State University in 1964.  She was awarded the three highest honors given by the University:  the Outstanding Graduate Award, the Outstanding Female Graduate Award, and the Outstanding Graduate in Political Science Award.  After her graduation, Ms. Benassi traveled to Germany where she attended the University of Heidelberg.  Upon her return a year later, she worked as a social worker in Salinas, California, helping primarily Hispanic women.  That experience prompted her to become an attorney.  She attended the University of California (Boalt Hall) and later the University of Illinois, graduating with a juris doctorate from the University of California in 1969.

She began her legal career with the National Labor Relations Board where she worked from 1969-1980 in the Peoria office.  During her tenure, she received an Outstanding Attorney Award and an Outstanding Supervisor Award.  In 1980, she and her husband established the law firm of Benassi & Benassi, P.C., which has served central Illinois for more than 30 years in employment law, civil rights law, personal injury law, domestic relations law, as well as other areas of general law. Ms. Benassi has represented individuals in numerous high profile discrimination and civil rights cases, in Central Illinois and throughout the nation, including the landmark sexual harassment case against Mitsubishi Motors.  She has represented plaintiffs in multi-plaintiff cases and class action cases obtaining successful results for thousands of employees.  She has also represented labor unions and employers who are committed to the principals of equal opportunity and workplace fairness and who have sought her experience and skill.  Numerous plaintiffs whose constitutional rights have been violated by governmental entities primarily in employment matters involving the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution have sought her help and received successful results in their cases.

Ms. Benassi has been selected to the Leading Lawyers Network continuously since 2004, and Super Lawyers continuously since 2005, and was inducted into the American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers at the ABA annual meeting in August, 2003.  She was awarded the Mother M. Krasse Professions Award for Leadership by the YWCA in 2006. In 2007 the Illinois Conference of the National Organization of Women awarded her the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Award for a life's work devoted to the equality and justice for women. She was named One of the Top Most Influential Women Lawyers in Illinois in 2000 by American Legal Media, received the Women of Achievement Award from Women in Management in 1994, and received the Equality and Justice Award from the National Organization of Women in 1996. She is a former chairperson of the Labor Law Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Areas of Practice:

Employment Law
Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment
Retaliation and Whistle Blower
Class Action and Multi-Plaintiff Cases
Civil Rights Litigation

Year Joined Organization:


Bar Admissions:

Illinois, 1969
U.S. District Court Central District of Illinois, 1970
U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 2000
U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 1983
U.S. Supreme Court, 1985


University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California, 1969 J.D.

University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Illinois, 1968

California State University, Northridge, California, 1964
Major: Political Science
Minor: German & English

Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies – Graduate Studies, Monterey, CA, 1964
Major: German

University of Heidelberg Graduate Studies, Heidelberg, Germany, 1964
Major: German Language and Literature

Classes/Seminars Taught:

National Labor Relations Board Faculty, 1975 – 1979

Sangamon State University Instructor General Labor Law, 1981

National Labor Relations Board Anniversary Conference (Plant Closings)

Oil and Chemical Workers International Representatives Conference (Labor Law Issues), July 1984 and July 1990

Illinois State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada (Labor Law Issues), July 1985

Women in Management, June 1991American Business Women's Club (Sexual Harassment in the Workplace), May 1992

Cosmopolitan Club (Sexual Harassment in the Workplace), December 1992

Women in Management (Sexual Harassment in the Workplace), January 1993

Peoria Lions Club, February 1993

City of Washington Chamber of Commerce (Sexual Harassment, Americans with Disabilities Act and Employment Contracts and Employment Policies & Practices), March 1993

Labor Relations Issues Involving Caterpillar, Inc. and the United Auto Workers (UAW), 1992 and 1993

National Association of Women Business Owners (“Sex Discrimination, A Two-Edged Sword”), August 1993

American Association of University Women (Sexual Harassment in the Workplace), March 1994

Illinois Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs (Public Policy Resolutions), April 1997

Illinois State Bar Association (Women's Legal Battles), Mid-Year Meeting, 1996

National Employment Lawyers Association (Discovery Strategies), Annual Meeting – Toronta, Canada, June 1997

Bradley Unversity (Attributes of Leadership), March 1998

Illinois Employment Lawyers Association (Backroom Trial Strategies), April 1998

Illinois Professional Women's Council (Justice for Working Women), October 1998

AAUW – IL, Inc. (Sexual Harassment), October 1998

University of Illinois, College of Law, Association of Women Law Students (Women as Lawyers and Lawyers as Leaders), Feburary 1999

Women in Management (Women: Our Past & Our Future), Peoria, Illinois, April 1999

National Employment Lawyers Association (Media Relations) New Orleans, Louisiana, June 1999

American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Meeting (Mediation of the Mitsubishi Sexual Harassment Case), San Francisco, California, April 2000

Bradley University (Women's Studies – “Apple of Knowledge”) Peoria, Illinois, October 2002

Peoria County Democratic Women (Annual May Day Dinner) Peoria, Illinois, May 2003

American Inns of Court (Using Issues of Gender, Ethnicity and Class in Evaluating Witness Credibility) Peoria, Illinois, October 2003

Bradley University (Women's Studies – “A-ha Moments! How I Became a Feminist”) Peoria, Illinois, November 2003

Women's Lifestyle Show (Challenges and Responsibilities as Women on This Small Planet) Peoria, Illinois, November 2004

South-West Kiwanis Club (Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Crisis-Fact or Fiction) Peoria, Illinois, February 2005

National Employment Lawyers Association Educational Program (Maximizing Damages in Sexual Harassment Cases ) Chicago, Illinois, March 2005

Bradley University Leadership Roundtable Speaker, Peoria, Illinois, March 2005

Honors and Awards:

Awarded the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Award for a life's work devoted to the equality and justice for women in 2007

Awarded the Mother M. Krasse Professions Award for Leadership by the YWCA in 2006

Selected to Super Lawyers continuously since 2005

Selected to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's Leading Lawyer's Network continuously since 2004 (To be included, a lawyer must be recognized as one of the top five percent of lawyers who practice in the regional area. Selection is made by other lawyers in the regional area.) Inducted into the American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers at the ABA annual meeting in August, 2003

America Legal Media, One of Top Ten Most Influential Women Lawyers in Illinois, 2000

Equality and Justice Award (Peoria Chapter of National Organization for Women), 1996

Women of Achievement Award (Women in Management, Peoria Chapter), 1994

Abraham Lincoln Inns of Court Master, 1988 – 1991

Abraham Lincoln Inns of Court Emeritis, 1991 – Present

Outstanding Supervisory Attorney – National Labor Relations Board, 1978

Outstanding Trial Attorney – National Labor Relations Board, 1974

Moot Court Honors Award – University of California, Boalt Hall, 1968

Outstanding Graduating Senior – California State University at Northridge

Outstanding Graduate in Political Science (Jenny L. Feugerson Award) – California State University at Northridge, 1964 – Present

Outstanding Woman Graduate – California State University at Northridge, 1964 – Present

Professional Associations and Memberships:

American Bar Association

Peoria County Bar Association

Board of Directors Illinois Bar Association, 1980 – Present

Illinois State Bar Association Labor Law Section Council, 1984 – 1985

Chairman AFL-CIO Union Lawyers Coordinating Committee, 1981 – 1990

Advisory Board to the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, 1984 – 1988

American Association for Justice

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association

National Employment Lawyers Association

Committee to revise local rules for the United States District Court, Central District of Illinois

Founding Member and Master of the Bar in the Abraham Lincoln Inns of Court, Peoria, Illinois
(Emeritus Member)

Women in Management, 1991 – Present

Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)
Board of Directors

American Association of University Women, 1992 – Present

Planned Parenthood (Peoria Chapter)
Member, Board of Directors

Peoria Chamber of Commerce

National Association of Women Business Owners

The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers

Past Employment Positions:

National Labor Relations Board, Trial Attorney & Trial Specialist, 1969 – 1975

National Labor Relations Board, Supervisory Attorney, 1976 – 1979

National Labor Relations Board, Faculty Member & Teacher, 1976 – 1980

Contact our Peoria, Illinois Lawyers

Our attorneys handle cases for clients throughout the state of Illinois; however, our practice is based primarily in central Illinois including the cities of Peoria, Eureka, Champaign, Bloomington-Normal, Pekin, Springfield, Rock Island, and surrounding areas. Please contact Benassi & Benassi. We are committed to providing positive resolutions to our clients' legal disputes so they can move on with their lives.

Practice Areas

Workers’ Compensation
Motor Vehicle Accident
Family Law/Dissolution
Personal Injury/Nursing Home Negligence/Medical Malpractice
Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Practice Areas

Employment Discrimination
Retaliation claims and Whistleblower in the Workplace
Class Action Lawsuit and Multi-Plaintiff Cases
Civil Rights Litigation
Employment Law