Court Finds In Favor of District in Illinois Human Right Act Suit

Mickes Goldman O’Toole attorneys Christi Flaherty and Wendy Kasten were able to obtain a defendants’ verdict in a case against a Madison County, Illinois School District. In this case, a substitute teacher’s aide, who had been employed by the District as a substitute for 5 years, sued the District under the Illinois Human Rights Act and Board Policy after the Superintendent decided to take her name off of the substitute list. The Superintendent made her decision after several principals had already decided to remove her from their individual buildings’ substitute lists. In this case, the Superintendent received an anonymous complaint that the Plaintiff had verbal confrontation with her pastor at her church; however, the plaintiff was actually an employee of the church and the argument was about her job performance and not about religious activity. In his ruling, the Court stated that there was no evidence that supported the contention that Plaintiff was terminated due to her religious activities – the location of the argument was irrelevant to whether the argument was “religious” in nature. The Court, after much argument, also held that Plaintiff had failed to prove she had a “reasonable expectation of continued employment” that would have required her to have due process prior to the decision to remove her name from the substitute list.

This case was initially tried before a 3-member panel of arbitrators in January, 2012, pursuant to Madison County’s mandatory arbitration rules. After all three arbitrators found for the District, the Plaintiff rejected the award and was able to obtain a trial de novo.

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