Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants portions of a lawsuit filed against Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s office dropped, and a court to sanction the former staff lawyer who filed it.
Madigan’s office asked a federal court on Monday to dismiss claims by Edmund Michalowski against two treasurer’s office employees and the Republican state treasurer’s office. Michalowski said the employees were involved in racketeering and retaliated against him for refusing to do political work. He also said Rutherford sexually harassed him.
Madigan calls the racketeering changes “baseless,” and said the harassment allegations involving the office weren’t “sufficiently severe or pervasive.”
* But the motion she filed goes way beyond that. For example, Michalowski apparently made some overblown allegations about Rutherford chief of staff Kyle Ham…
Michalowski alleges that Ham told him that Rutherford required Treasurer Office employees to make ―donations to non-office government functions that would benefit the Rutherford and Romney campaigns. Michalowski says he gave the demanded cash to Ham at the Treasurer‘s Office in Chicago. Although for this motion the Court must accept this allegation as true, Michalowski notably does not identify the so-called ―non-office government functions‖ (staff holiday party) or say how much he paid ($50).
Who sues over a staff holiday party?
* And this…
Michalowski next alleges that on July 24, 2011, Conrad sent him a text saying that the Treasurer wanted him to wear a tank top. Michalowski omits the rest of the text exchange, including his own joking comments.
* More on the sexual harassment allegations…
Michalowski‘s Title VII claim should be dismissed because he does not allege conduct that created an objectively hostile working environment under controlling precedent. For conduct to create a hostile work environment, it must be both subjectively and objectively offensive and “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of [the victim‘s] employment and create an abusive working environment.” […]
The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held that conduct that was more severe than what Michalowski alleges here did not rise to the level of objective harassment as a matter of law. […]
Where courts have allowed hostile work environment cases to proceed, the alleged misconduct was substantially more severe and pervasive that what Michalowski alleges here, and usually involved incidents of unwanted touching. […]
Although the April 2011 incident allegedly involved grabbing “at” Michalowski‘s “genital area,” Michalowski does not allege that the Treasurer touched him. And even if the Treasurer‘s later alleged invitations to his home and hotel room and shoulder rub were unwanted, Michalowski does not allege that the Treasurer made any explicit sexual comments or requested any sexual activity.Taken as a whole, these sporadic incidents were not sufficiently pervasive or severe to constitute objective harassment as a matter of law.
* Regarding the RICO claim…
Michalowski does not come close to alleging facts needed to establish necessary elements for a RICO claim, including: (a) actual RICO predicate acts; (b) how each defendant engaged in a pattern of racketing activity; (c) how each defendant operated the Treasurer‘s Office through a pattern of racketeering; (d) an agreement by each defendant to facilitate the completion of a RICO violation; and (e) an injury to Michalowski‘s “business or property” that was proximately caused by a RICO violation.
* 1st Amendment claim…
Michalowski‘s First Amendment claim fails at the outset because, as a policymaking employee, the First Amendment does not protect his alleged lack of political support for Treasurer Rutherford. The right of public employees to associate (or not associate) politically may be legitimately constrained if the employee is in a policymaking position, has access to confidential information, or otherwise enjoys a position where political loyalty may be expected. […]
Even if Michalowski has alleged some conduct that is protected by the First Amendment, he still does not have a valid political discrimination claim against Ham or Conrad because he does not allege that Ham or Conrad took any action that was motivated to deter him from engaging in protected activity.
* And she states there was no “hit list”…
Michalowski‘s hit-list allegation also does not qualify as actionable retaliation. Michalowski alleges that Rutherford and Ham (not Conrad) supposedly created a hit list of employees who would be fired for their lack of political support, but he does not allege that Rutherford and Ham created this supposed list to deter any First Amendment activity, that the list hindered his job performance or deterred him from engaging in protected conduct, or that he or anyone else was actually fired because of their lack of political support.
Even assuming that there was such a list (there was not), nothing in the law prevents the Treasurer and his chief of staff from creating a list of employees who might be terminated.
There’s lots more, so go read the whole thing.