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Attorneys for former Decatur Police Chief Brad Sweeney said they will file a new, amended complaint against the city of Decatur after a judge overseeing the case dismissed the claim. Sweeney’s suit claims he was fired after confronting the City Manager, Tim Gleason, about the use of a police vehicle to make a private flight at a St. Louis airport in May 2015.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges he was protected from termination as his raising of the issue of police vehicles for private use was covered under the Illinois Whistleblower Act. Under The Act, individuals who refuse to commit to improper actions are protected from retaliation.
Attorneys for the city asserted Sweeney was complicit in the City Manager’s use of the police vehicle and driver for travel to the airport, a charge the plaintiff’s attorneys claim is a mischaracterization of the situation. Sweeney claims he had no choice in the matter and complied only under fear of possible sanctions by the City Manager.
Police chief’s actions not covered by Illinois Whistleblower Act
In dismissing the case, the judge sided with the defense citing previous cases where courts ruled the plaintiff must have refused to comply with an improper action to receive protection from retaliation. The plaintiff’s attorneys vowed to reword the complaint as to comply with pleadings standards for civil claims.
Under the act, state employees like Sweeney are only covered against retaliation if they:
- Disclose or threaten disclosure to supervisors or any public body they believe illegal conduct took place;
- Provide information to any public body conducting an investigation into corruption; or
- Participate in a proceeding to enforce the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.
Types of retaliation covered under the act include termination, reprimands, suspensions, demotion or denial of promotion or transfers. Restitution for improper retaliation covered by the act includes:
- Double back pay lost while unemployed;
- Interest on back pay; and
- Payment for reasonable attorneys fees and expenses.
Illinois whistleblower retaliation attorneys
If you believe you were terminated or otherwise retaliated against by your employer for disclosing or threatening to disclose improper or illegal conduct under Illinois law, contact the Chicago whistleblower retaliation attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich online or call 312.332.6733 for a consultation about your case. Consultations are kept confidential pursuant to Illinois whistleblower laws. Our attorneys serve clients throughout Chicago and the surrounding areas, including Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.