* The state settled a suit against Sylvia Riperton-Lewis brought by one of her employees at IDHS…
The plaintiff, Kenneth Shanoff, says that Riperton-Lewis, his supervisor at the Illinois Department of Human Services, made life so unpleasant while he worked at the John Madden Mental Health Center in Chicago that he became ill. He says in his lawsuit that Riperton-Lewis called him a “haughty Jew” after she was hired as a manager in 1996 and once lunged at him with a pen.
Soon after becoming his supervisor, Riperton-Lewis told Shanoff that he did not want to see “this n*gger get angry,” according to his lawsuit, and that she once told him “I know how to put you Jews in your place.” When he asked to have days off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Shanoff says that Riperton-Lewis told him “I don’t give a damn about your holidays.” […]
Riperton-Lewis denied making any discriminatory statements. A federal trial court ruled that Riperton-Lewis’ remarks weren’t sufficient to constitute a hostile work environment and so dismissed the lawsuit, but a three-judge appellate panel disagreed and ordered the case reinstated.
“She (Riperton-Lewis) used her supervisory position to bully, intimidate and insult Shanoff because of his race and religion, which is the type of ‘extreme’ harassment that is the hallmark of a hostile environment claim,” the appellate court wrote in a 2001 ruling that revived the case that was settled soon thereafter. “Riperton-Lewis’s remarks were not merely inappropriate, insulting, demeaning or annoying, and there is no indication that she was teasing Shanoff or that she simply lacked a proper sensitivity to his race and religion.”
Taxpayers shelled out $300,000 to settle the suit without anyone admitting any wrongdoing.
* But guess what? She’s now back on the payroll…
Last month, the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services hired Riperton-Lewis as a manager for the the department’s Bureau of Quality Management, a position exempt from civil service rules. She is paid $94,500 a year, more than $2,000 more than she was paid when she last worked for the state.