Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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The Bartonville police department’s union contract includes a grievance procedure. The Union may refer the grievance to arbitration if it is not settled within the three-step procedure. In 2014, Chief Fengel signed a complaint for termination, alleging that Lopez violated department procedures during a traffic stop. After scheduling a hearing by the board of fire and police commissioners, Lopez sought a declaratory judgment, arguing that the board was divested of jurisdiction because it had failed to commence the hearing within the 30-day time limit under Municipal Code 10-2.1-17. The board responded that it did so at Lopez’s request. The appellate court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the board. The hearing had proceeded, with counsel stating that Lopez did not waive the issue of jurisdiction and that the Union’s presence did not waive its contractual right to grieve the termination. The board ordered termination. Lopez never sought judicial review under the Administrative Review Law, but filed a grievance. When the grievance was not resolved by the three-step process, the Union referred it to arbitration. The Department sought a stay, arguing that in relying on the Municipal Code, Lopez essentially admitted that the board had jurisdiction. Because the board issued a final merits decision, review was subject to the Administrative Review Law. The Department also argued that the grievance and arbitration provisions in the labor contract did not apply to termination proceedings because the parties did not negotiate an alternative form of due process in the labor contract. The trial court granted the Department summary judgment, finding no contract provision, “even inferring, that the grievance procedure should, or could, be used to determine disciplinary matters.” The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court decision, finding the grievance barred by waiver and res judicata. View "The Village of Bartonville v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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Beggs, a tenured teacher, was dismissed from her employment by Murphysboro Community Unit School District. Caring for her parents, Beggs had accrued several absences and was tardy several days. She had received a “letter of concern” and a “remedial warning,” had taken sick leave, and had been suspended before her termination. Beggs requested a hearing, Illinois School Code, 105 ILCS 5/24-12. A hearing officer issued findings of fact and recommended that Beggs be reinstated with back pay and benefits because the Board failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she had violated the notice of remedial warning or that she had engaged in irremediable conduct that constituted grounds for dismissal. The Board nonetheless dismissed her. The circuit court ordered Beggs reinstated with back pay and benefits. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. While the Board’s frustration with Beggs before the notice of remedial warning was “understandable and well documented,” it was unclear from the Board’s decision whether it would have found cause for discharge based on a tardiness incident of March 19, 2012, alone. Only a clear and material breach of the warning notice that was causally related to her past deficiencies would support dismissal. That single incident was not a clear and material breach of the warning notice. The court expressed “a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” View "Beggs v. Board of Education of Murphysboro Community Unit School District No. 186" on Justia Law

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Bayer, an ironworker with Area Erectors, which was hired by Garbe to build Panduit’s warehouse facilities, fell and is now quadriplegic. Bayer filed a claim against Area under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1). Area began making temporary total disability payments and payments for Bayer’s medical expenses. Bayer also sued Panduit, Garbe, and a structural engineering company for negligence. Panduit and Garbe sued Area under the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/0.01). Bayer's settlement with Area was approved, so Area was discharged from contribution liability. Other claims were resolved, leaving only Bayer’s action for negligence against Panduit. Judgment ($64 million) was entered in Bayer’s favor. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/5(b)), Area was entitled to recover out of that judgment the amount of compensation it paid or would pay to Bayer, including amounts paid or to be paid under the Act for medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and temporary partial disability benefits. The court suspended future workers’ compensation payments. The Act provides that where, “the services of an attorney at law of the employee . . . have . . . substantially contributed to the procurement ... of the proceeds out of which the employer is reimbursed, then, in the absence of other agreement, the employer shall pay such attorney 25% of the gross amount of such reimbursement,” 820 ILCS 305/5(b), so Bayer’s lawyers were entitled to fees equal to 25% of the amount Area had paid for lost wages, medical expenses, and other compensable items before payments were suspended. Building on its 1990 holding that the gross amount of reimbursement subject to attorney fees includes both benefits paid before the third-party recovery and the amount of such benefits the employer will be relieved from paying in the future by reason of the third-party action, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the value of future medical care should be included in this calculation. View "Bayer v. Panduit Corp." on Justia Law

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After the 2004 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Unions and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) expired, the retiree health care benefits were the subject of an interest arbitration award. That award, which modified the retiree health care benefits, was accepted by the CTA and the Unions. Current and retired employees who had begun work with the CTA before 2001 challenged that award in a putative class action, asserting breach of contract, promissory estoppel, breach of fiduciary duty, and that the arbitration award was unenforceable under article XIII, section 5, of the Illinois Constitution, the “pension protection clause.” The circuit court ruled that the retired CTA employees had standing to challenge the modifications to their retiree health care benefits, but current CTA employees lacked standing, then dismissed for failure to state a claim. The appellate court agreed that current employees lacked standing but held that the retirees had a vested right to receive the health care benefits that were provided in the prior CBA and had stated claims for breach of that contract and for promissory estoppel. The Illinois Supreme Court held that plaintiffs who retired before the effective date of the 2007 CBA had standing; other retirees and current employees lacked standing. Dismissal of the claim for promissory estoppel against the CTA was proper; the complaint stated claims for breach of contract and under the pension protection clause. View "Matthews v. Chicago Transit Auth." on Justia Law

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In 2005, plaintiff, a Carbondale police officer, struck the top of his head on the door of his squad car, causing him to “see stars” and experience a sharp pain in his arm, with no abrasions or blood loss. Plaintiff never returned to work. In 2007, plaintiff sought a line-of-duty disability pension (40 ILCS 5/3-114.1). The Board found that plaintiff’s disability was not the result of an on-duty injury and that plaintiff was not unable to return to work. The trial court reversed. The appellate court affirmed. In 2012, the city began providing plaintiff and his family with health insurance coverage. After a 2012 examination, the physician concluded that plaintiff was able to return to work. The Board terminated plaintiff’s disability pension. Plaintiff responded that he had not received notice of the meeting where the Board had voted to terminate his benefits. The circuit court affirmed, without addressing plaintiff’s due process claim. The city notified plaintiff that his insurance coverage would be terminated. The circuit court denied plaintiff a permanent injunction with respect to the insurance. The appellate court reversed that denial and the pension termination, finding that the Board had violated plaintiff’s due process rights by voting without notice or a proper hearing, but did not address whether the determination that plaintiff was no longer disabled was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the denial of an injunction with respect to insurance coverage. Plaintiff’s injury did not result from one of the conditions in the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (820 ILCS 320/10), such as responding to an emergency; he did not demonstrate a clear and ascertainable right in need of protection and was not entitled to a permanent injunction View "Vaughn v. City of Carbondale" on Justia Law

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AFSCME represents approximately 40,000 state employees working in executive agencies. In 2008, AFSCME and the state negotiated a collective bargaining agreement effective through June 2012, providing for a general wage increase on January 1, 2009, and thereafter on every July 1 and January 1. Individual increases varied, but totaled 15.25%. A 4% increase was scheduled for July 1, 2011. In 2010, facing declining state revenues and the potential layoff of 2,500 state employees, AFSCME and the state agreed to $300 million in cost savings, including deferring the July 2011 increase; a 2% increase would be implemented on July 1, 2011, with the remaining 2% to be implemented on February 1, 2012. After adoption of the fiscal 2012 budget, the Department of Central Management Services notified agencies and labor relations administrators that, due to insufficient appropriations, the wage increase could not be implemented in 14 agencies. In arbitration, the state argued that the Public Labor Relations Act mandates that executive branch expenditures under a CBA are contingent on corresponding appropriations by the General Assembly, that this provision restates the mandate of the Illinois Constitution appropriations clause, and that it was incorporated into the CBA by the statement that “the provisions of this contract cannot supersede law.” The arbitrator issued an award in favor of AFSCME. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and vacated the award, holding that the arbitration award violates Illinois public policy, as reflected in the appropriations clause and the Public Labor Relations Act. View "Illinois v. Am. Fed'n of State, County & Mun. Employees, Council 31" on Justia Law

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Illinois has four public pension plans for Chicago city employees; all subject to the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution: “Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” The funds provide traditional defined benefit plans. As with state-funded pensions, for employees hired before 2011, annuity payments were subject to 3% automatic annual increases beginning after the member’s first full year of retirement, and compounded annually. For later-hires, the annuity adjustments were tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Before Public Act 98-641, employees contributed 8.5% of their salary toward their pension. The city contributed based on a fixed multiplier, paid largely from property tax proceeds.The pensions were inadequate to cover benefits. The funds are on “a path of insolvency.” Public Act 98-641, effective in 2014, was based on a finding that financial crisis could not be addressed by increased funding alone. Under the Act, the city’s contribution progressively increases beginning in 2021; employee contributions are also increased. For two city funds, the Act: reduces the annual benefit increase to the lesser of three percent or half the annual unadjusted percentage increase in the CPI; removes the compounding component; eliminates increases in specific years, and postpones the initial increase. The Illinois Supreme Court found the Act unconstitutional. Nothing in the legislative process that led to its enactment constituted a waiver of members’ rights under the pension protection clause.Whether members may be “better off” under the Act is not for the General Assembly to decide unilaterally. View "Jones v. Mun. Employees' Annuity & Benefit Fund" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was employed by American since 1988. On January 1, 2012, while working as a tower planner at O’Hare, plaintiff received a call from a friend at another airline, asking plaintiff to do something for a passenger who was scheduled to fly on American. Plaintiff requested that the catering department deliver a bottle of champagne and asked a flight attendant whether it would be possible to upgrade the passenger. The passenger was upgraded to first class. Plaintiff's employment was terminated because she upgraded the passenger and requested the champagne without proper authorization. American cited employee policies concerning dishonesty. Plaintiff applied for unemployment insurance benefits with the Department of Employment Security. American protested, alleging that plaintiff was ineligible because she was “discharged for misconduct connected with [her] work,” under the Unemployment Insurance Act, 820 ILCS 405/602(A). Following a hearing, a Department referee denied plaintiff’s application. The Board of Review affirmed. The circuit court reversed, finding that the actions which led to plaintiff’s discharge did not constitute “misconduct” under the strict statutory definition. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the circuit court decision, finding no illegal or intentionally tortious conduct, nor evidence of a deliberate rule violation. View "Petrovic v. Dep't of Emp't Sec." on Justia Law

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The Chicago Board of Education and the Teachers Union 2007-2012 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) established a grievance procedure that culminated in binding arbitration. In 2010, the Board notified the Union of a new policy: designating as ineligible for rehire probationary appointed teachers (PATs) who have been non-renewed twice, or have had an unsatisfactory performance rating. The Board began implementing this policy and notified PATs that they were being non-renewed, but did not inform them that it had placed a “do not hire” (DNH) designation in their personnel files. The Union presented grievances and demanded arbitration. The Board refused to arbitrate, claiming that Board hiring decisions were exclusive management rights. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act found that, under the Act and the CBA, the Board had a duty to arbitrate the DNH grievances and, by refusing, had violated 115 ILCS 5/14(a)(1). The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. PATs are employed for a single school-year; the Board alone is vested with selection of such employees as a matter of inherent managerial policy. The policy of placing a DNH designation in PAT files following two nonrenewals or an unsatisfactory performance rating was within the Board’s authority because it directly relates to its exclusive right to determine hiring guidelines. View "Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago v. Ill. Educ. Labor Relations Bd." on Justia Law

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From 1966-1970, Folta was a shipping clerk and product tester for Ferro Engineering and was exposed to products containing asbestos. In 2011, Folta was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a disease associated with asbestos exposure. He sued Ferro, alleging negligence. Ferro moved to dismiss under ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9), arguing that the claimswere barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/5(a)) and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310/5(a)). Ferro maintained that his action fell outside the exclusive remedy provisions because his claims were not “compensable” under the statutes: the symptoms did not manifest until more than 40 years after his last exposure to asbestos, and any potential asbestos-related compensation claim was barred under the 25-year limitation provision. The circuit court dismissed, holding that the action was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions. The appellate court reversed, reasoning that the term “compensability” must relate to the “ability to recover under the Act.” The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the dismissal, noting that the acts do not prevent an employee from seeking a remedy against other third parties for an injury or disease and that Folta had also sued manufacturers. View "Folta v. Ferro Eng'g" on Justia Law