Recent Court and Agency Decisions
District Organization and Operation
Title VII - Retaliation
Collins v. American Red Cross, No. 11-3345 (March 8, 2013) N.D. Ill.,W. Div. Affirmed.
Toy Collins, an African American, began working with the Red Cross as a paid employee in 2000. In the summer of 2006, Collins called the Red Cross confidentiality line to report discriminatory behavior in the workplace. On August 31, 2006, she filed a racial discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC gave her a right to sue letter on February 26, 2007. She did not sue at that time.
In June 2007, Collins coworkers complained that (1) Collins told others that the Red Cross was out to get minorities; (2) Collins said she could not work with homosexuals; (3) Collins instructed an employee to falsify records; (4) Collins coerced a subordinate into teaching a class for free and (5) Collins gave out blank certifications for Red Cross courses. The Red Cross assigned a human resources officer to investigate these claims. The officer found all of these allegations were substantiated and the Red Cross fired Collins on July 16, 2007.
Collins filed suit alleging that the Red Cross terminated her on account of her race and in retaliation for filing the prior EEOC claim. The fact that Collins denied all claims of the investigation, the investigation was sloppy and that management could have come to the wrong conclusion were not enough to show that the Red Cross possessed any discriminatory animosity.
Posted date: 3/27/2013
Rachel Prezek, IASB Law Clerk
State pension systems
The Bd. Of Education of Schaumburg Cmty. Consol. Sch. Dist. No. 54 v. The Teachers’ Ret. Sys. Of The State of Ill., No. 4-12-0419 (Ill. App. 4th Jan. 7, 2013)
UPDATE: The Illinois Supreme Court has denied the District’s petition for leave to appeal the above-listed Appellate Court decision holding that the TRS’ bill to the district stands. The denial of the District’s appeal is located at Board of Educ. of Schaumburg Community Consol. School Dist. No. 54 v. Teachers' Retirement System of State of Ill., --- N.E.2d ---- (Ill., Mar. 27, 2013).
The Board of Education of Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District No. 54 (“District”) entered into an agreement with its teachers’ union, which provided that the Retirement Program would continue for the duration of the teachers’ collective-bargaining agreement. The agreement ran from July 1, 2003 to June 20, 2009, and it provided that the Retirement Program in question would be available for individuals who retired before June 30, 2011.
A group of retired administrators and Teachers’ Retirement System (“TRS”) annuitants collected retirement benefits, which provided salary increases in excess of 6% per year. Because the raises exceeded 6%, TRS billed the District $586,387.81 plus interest according to section 16-158(f) of the Pension Code. Section 16-158(f) of the Pension Code requires a TRS-employer to make added payments to TRS in specific situations.
The District challenged the bill stating that (1) these raises were exempt from an assessment pursuant to 16-158(f) and 16-158(g) of the Pension Code and (2) arguing that TRS incorrectly interpreted sections 1650.483 and 1650.484 of title 80 of the Illinois Administrative Code. Section 16-158(g) of the Pension Code has a grandfathering exemption (salary increases paid to teachers under existing contracts/collective bargaining agreements entered into, amended, or renewed before June 1, 2005). The District argued that the Retirement Program was entered into before June 1, 2005, and it should be grandfathered. First because, pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Code, the administrators were not covered by an employment contract nor were they union members. Second, because both (1) the administrators submitted notices of intent to retire, and (2) the Retirement Program were approved before June 1, 2005.
TRS did not agree with the District and cited to 10-23-8a of the School Code. Section 10-23.8a of the School Code states that after its 1997 amendment and expiration of contracts in effect on the date of that Act, school districts can only employ principals/administrators under a contract that cannot exceed a year or a performance-based contract that cannot exceed five years. The Court stated that this law provides the limited method in which a school district may employ an administrator and under this law, the administrators could only have a one-year contract regardless of whether these individuals had entered into a written agreement with the District.
The Court stated that the administrators did not enter into a contract to participate in the Retirement Program until the administrator submitted his or her irrevocable notice of intent to retire. In this case, the administrators submitted their notices between December 2006 and November 2007. The salary increases were paid out to the administrators pursuant to contracts that had been entered into after June 1, 2005. The court held that these contracts were not exempt. Therefore the TRS’ bill to the District for $586,387.81 plus interest according to section 16-158(f) of the Pension Code stands.
Posted date: 3/01/2013
Melissa-Ann E. Evanchik, IASB Law Clerk
Ill. School Code’s education funding system
Carr v. Koch, 2012 IL 113414 (Ill., 11/29/2012).
Does the Ill. School Code’s education funding system violate the equal-protection clause?
The plaintiffs requested a declaration that the Ill. education funding system unconstitutionally violates the equal protection clause. Their request was denied because they lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. A party must have “standing” to bring a lawsuit. This means that the party must have a real interest in the outcome of the case.
The Ill. Supreme Court determined that the Plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the equal protection violation claims. They failed to allege actual or threatened injury, and their claim of higher tax rates was not traceable back to the State of Ill.’s actions. The Ill. Supreme Court clarified that the education funding statute in Illinois is simply just that – a funding statute and not a taxing statute. In addition, the statute does not require districts to actually tax at any certain rate to receive general state aid. Because of this, the State of Ill. did not induce any individual school district's decision about its tax rates. The plaintiffs’ claim that the state has abandoned local control in favor of centralized decision making by ISBE was also insufficient to confer standing. Until a party can show it has standing to bring a lawsuit under this statute, the Ill. Supreme Court cannot address the question.
Posted date: 12/3/2012
Moore v. Chicago Park District, 2012 IL 112788 (October 18, 2012).
Sylvia Moore fell in a parking lot when leaving a Chicago Park District facility in January 2006. She fell as she attempted to step over a pile of snow that had collected on the asphalt during plowing. Moore broke her leg and, due to complications of her surgery, passed away. Her estate claimed wrongful death and damages according to the Survival Act.
The Park District argued that it was immune from these claims under section 3-106 of the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. The purpose of this Act is to protect the local public entities and public employees from liability arising from the operation of government, including injuries caused by the condition of movable personal property. The activity of plowing maintains the public function of the park district facility, and the Park district was immune from liability because the snow was a condition of the public property.
Posted date: 11/13/12
Rachel Prezek, IASB Law Clerk
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