Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court
McFatridge v. Madigan
McFatridge prosecuted Steidl and Whitlock for 1986 murders and obtained convictions, which were subsequently overturned in federal court. The defendants filed separate federal suits seeking financial recovery against McFatridge, Edgar County, and others. McFatridge sought mandamus to compel Attorney General Madigan to approve payment for litigation expenses he incurred in his defense of the civil lawsuits, under the State Employee Indemnification Act. The Attorney General refused requests for payment, contending that payment was barred under the Act by the allegations of intentional, willful, or wanton misconduct, but that there could be indemnification later if a court or jury should find that there was no such misconduct. The circuit court dismissed the mandamus complaint, but the appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal. The statute has a provision that an elected official (such as a State’s Attorney) may choose his or her own defense counsel and have the resulting expenses paid as they are incurred; the provision has no impact on an earlier provision of the Act that allows the Attorney General to decline representation if she determines that the claim is for intentional, willful, or wanton misconduct.Burke View "McFatridge v. Madigan" on Justia Law
Griggsville-Perry Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 4 v. IL Educ. Labor Relations Bd.
A “paraprofessional” who, for 11 years, had worked in the elementary school library, helped at recess, and taught keyboarding classes, was a member of the union, which had a collective-bargaining agreement with the district. The CBA provided that when “a member of the bargaining unit is required to appear before the Board of Education concerning any disciplinary matter, the staff member shall be given reasonable prior written notice of the reasons for such meeting and shall be entitled to have a personal representative at said meeting.” In 2008, the school principal recommended the employee’s discharge. The employee spoke at the regular meeting of the board, although the concerns at issue had not been specified to her She was discharged. The matter then went to arbitration, as provided in the CBA. The arbitrator ordered a reinstatement. The school district did not comply. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board confirmed the award. The appellate court held that the arbitrator’s award was “clearly erroneous.” The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the award. Judicial review of an arbitrator’s award is extremely limited; the question is whether the decision draws its essence from the CBA. The arbitrator had interpreted a quoted provision of the CBA as calling for a dismissal procedure that was not arbitrary, and he found arbitrariness in the lack of information given to the employee prior to her dismissal. View "Griggsville-Perry Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 4 v. IL Educ. Labor Relations Bd." on Justia Law
Lawlor v. N. Am. Corp. of IL
Lawlor worked for NA, selling corporate promotional items. In 2005, she began working for a competitor. NA’s attorney, investigating whether she had violated a noncompetition agreement, retained a private investigating firm, giving Lawlor’s birth date, address, phone numbers, and social security number. That firm asked another agency to use the information to obtain personal phone records, which were forwarded to NA for determination of whether any numbers belonged to its customers. Lawlor’s tort claim alleged “pretexting,” that someone impersonated her to obtain phone records without permission. NA counterclaimed breach of fiduciary duty of loyalty by attempting to direct business to a competitor while employed. A jury awarded Lawlor $65,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages. The court heard NA’s claim, awarded $78,781 in compensatory damages and $551,467 in punitive damages, and remitted the jury’s punitive damage award to $659,000. The appellate court reinstated Lawlor’s punitive damage award. The Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence that NA was vicariously liable for the tortious intrusion upon seclusion by the investigators. Punitive damages should be reduced to $65,000, given the limited harm and the vicarious nature of the liability. The court agreed that evidence of breach of fiduciary duty was speculative. View "Lawlor v. N. Am. Corp. of IL" on Justia Law
Martin v. Keeley & Sons, Inc.
In 2001, Keeley was acting as general contractor for reconstruction of a bridge. Three Keeley employees were injured in the collapse of a concrete I-beam used to support the bridge deck on which they were standing. They were unable to prove claims against the manufacturer of the beam and the designer of the supporting bearing assembly. Keeley had demolished the beam the day after the accident; they claimed negligent spoliation of evidence. The Illinois Department of Transportation and OSHA had inspected the site before the beam was broken up and left as “riprap” in the creek. The circuit court granted Keeley summary judgment. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the summary judgment. Generally, there is no duty to preserve evidence. The facts did not establish an exception that might apply if there had been a voluntary undertaking to preserve evidence. Keeley’s mere possession and control of the beam did not constitute special circumstances creating a duty, nor is the employer-employee relationship, in itself, a special circumstance justifying imposition of a duty to preserve evidence. Whether a reasonable person in Keeley’s position should have foreseen that the evidence was material to a potential civil action was irrelevant; no duty was established. View "Martin v. Keeley & Sons, Inc." on Justia Law
Chicago Teachers Union v. Bd. of Educ., City of Chicago
In summer 2010, due to budget deficits, the board laid off 1,289 teachers. Laid-off teachers were not given preference for positions available in the district, nor were all vacancies posted on the website. In August, 2010, there was an increase in funding. Approximately 715 tenured teachers were recalled, but many positions were filled with new hires, rather than laid-off tenured teachers. There was no official recall policy. The Seventh Circuit certified, to the Supreme Court of Illinois, the question of whether the School Code (105 ILCS 5/34-18(31)), provides that Chicago tenured teachers have a right to be rehired after an economic layoff and whether they have a right to certain procedures during rehiring. The court responded that Chicago public schools are treated differently under the School Code. In all the other districts, laid-off tenured teachers have a right of recall and, subject to certification and seniority, have a right to be rehired into new vacancies in their districts for a specific period. Under 1995 amendments Chicago teachers were not given those rights. The supreme court declined to read into School Code language something which the legislature did not put there.
Gaffney v. Bd. of Tr. of Orland Fire Prot. Dist.
Firefighters, who suffered career-ending injuries during required training exercises, obtained line-of-duty disability pensions and sought continuing health coverage under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act, 820 ILCS 320/10, which requires employers of full-time firefighters to pay health insurance premiums for the firefighter and family if the firefighter suffers a catastrophic injury as a result of a response to what is reasonably believed to be an emergency. The trial court dismissed a declaratory judgment action by one firefighter and affirmed denial of the insurance benefit for one firefighter. The appellate court affirmed. The supreme court held that an "emergency" means an unforeseen circumstance calling for urgent and immediate action and can arise in a training exercise. The other firefighter had obtained a declaratory judgment, which was affirmed by the appellate court. The supreme court distinguished the situation because, although he was instructed to "respond as if it were an actual emergency," he was not injured while making an urgent response to unforeseen circumstances involving an imminent danger to person or property.
Nowak v. City of Country Club Hills
For 12 months following his injury, plaintiff, a police officer injured on duty, received salary under the Public Employee Disability Act. For a short time thereafter, he received salary through a combination of accrued sick and vacation time, light duty, and temporary total disability payments under the Workers’ Compensation Act. While plaintiff received salary under PEDA, the city deducted 20 percent of his health insurance premiums from his paycheck, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. After PEDA benefits expired, plaintiff continued to pay 20 percent of the premiums. When he was awarded a line-of-duty disability pension under the Illinois Pension Code, the city began paying 100 percent of the premiums, as required by the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act, 820 ILCS 320/10(a). Plaintiff's request for reimbursement for premiums paid since the date of injury was refused. The circuit court entered summary judgment for the city. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the appellate court. Under PSEBA, an employer's obligation to pay the entire health insurance premium for an injured officer and his family attaches on the date that it is determined that the injury is "catastrophic," the date it is determined that the injured officer is permanently disabled and eligible for a line-of-duty disability pension.
Reliable Fire Equip. Co. v. Arredondo
Plaintiff sells, installs, and services fire extinguishers and fire suppression and fire alarm systems, which it designs for commercial customers. Defendant Garcia, hired as a systems technician in 1992, became a sales person. In 1997 he signed a noncompetition agreement. Defendant Arredondo, a salesperson, signed a noncompetition agreement about a week after being hired in 1998. The agreement prohibited competition during their employment and for one year after termination in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin and prohibited solicitation of plaintiff's customers, referral sources, and employees. In 2004 defendants formed a competing company; Arredondo resigned, Garcia was fired. The trial court found the covenants unenforceable and a divided appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court remanded. Assessment of a covenant includes analysis of the employer's legitimate business interest, based on the totality of the circumstances.Factors include, but are not limited to, the near-permanence of customer relationships, the employee’s acquisition of confidential information through his employment, and time and place restrictions. No factor carries any more weight than any other,
Genius v. County of Cook
In 1996 the plaintiff, a sergeant with the forest preserve district police, was indicted for unauthorized purchase of badges and suspended without pay. The district did not respond to his inquiry about a hearing. After the criminal charges were dismissed in 2001, plaintiff requested reinstatement and back pay. The district responded that it was seeking discharge based on rules violations. Plaintiff disputed the charges and asserted that the suspension violated the rules. The employee appeals board declined to hear the matter. At a predisciplinary hearing, a three-member panel of district supervisors refused to answer questions about which rules applied to the suspension. After a hearing before the employee appeals board that concluded in 2004, plaintiff was discharged and his claim of unlawful suspension was found to be forfeited. The circuit court affirmed. The appellate court vacated. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded, rejecting the appellate court's determination that the board lacked jurisdiction.