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LIG: Hastings accuser was “appropriately” dismissed

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020

* From last September

An Olympia Fields trustee and former chief of staff for state Sen. Michael Hastings is suing Hastings and the Illinois State Senate for harassment. Hastings, in turn, has filed an ethics complaint against her.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Cassandra Matz filed the suit in June and has filed other complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Matz, who had been a close political ally of Hastings, claimed he harassed her and that he filed his own complaint against her with the legislative inspector general after she confronted him about his behavior.

Hastings’s lawyer, the Tribune reported, called the suits “frivolous.”

More here.

* Couple of days ago

An ethics investigation launched last year at the behest of state Sen. Michael Hastings found his former chief of staff engaged in prohibited political activity and misappropriated state resources by using her official email account to conduct personal business.

The legislative inspector general concluded that allegations Hastings made against Cassandra Matz, who worked for him from 2013 until he fired her in 2018, were “factually well-founded” and that her termination was “supported by the facts,” according to an investigative summary report.

In a statement Hastings released in response to the report, he said its findings confirmed that Matz, an Olympia Fields trustee, had “repeatedly violated the public trust as an employee of my office,” and said he was “deeply disappointed” in her behavior. […]

The office substantiated Hastings’ allegations late last year, but deemed Matz’s claims unfounded.

Because reports on allegations that are deemed “unfounded” are not made public, even to the complainant, the reasons why the legislative inspector general did not substantiate Matz’s claims of harassment are unknown.

If you read the LIG report, Matz made it clear this was not about physical or sexual harassment.

The two were exchanging emails in 2018 “in which they expressed mutual dissatisfaction and frustration with each other regarding employment and supervision issue” according to the report, and Matz wrote “I’m feeling harassed.”

Sen. Hastings denied the harassment in a reply, but urged her to follow the instructions on a flowchart posted in the break room about how to file a complaint. He also told her that he had forwarded the entire email chain to the Senate’s chief counsel.

In September of last year, the EEOC dismissed Matz’s complaint, but she has filed a lawsuit. An initial motion to dismiss was granted, but she has an opportunity to file another amended complaint.

* LIG conclusions

Her response is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Better Call Saul - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 11:20 am:

    This is the typical example of a disgruntled employee using a lawsuit as a weapon against an employer when they’ve done something wrong. It really is a disservice to someone who has actual problems.

    Four counts of prohibited political activities, 36 emails relating to real estate business and nine email addresses and the best the response was she’s not “tech savvy”. She Better Call Saul.

  2. - 32nd warder - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 11:20 am:

    So happy this has finally become public, and it confirms what many of us have known all along…Senator Hastings is an outstanding individual and an outstanding public servant. It is far too uncommon to have legislators who have served their country as a member of the armed forces, let alone to have served in combat. Hastings is that rare individual, and I hope that the next person who thinks of trying to smear his name will think twice. Thank you for your service, Senator!

  3. - Better Gov Dem - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 11:36 am:

    Will Ms Matz have to pay taxpayers back for the money, time, and resources she wasted with her frivolous lawsuit and slanderous complaint? Is this the same Ms Matz that is at all the Black Caucus Foundation events and is close with Kim Lightford? Is she still a sitting trustee? So many questions. I’m glad that good, hard working person, father, elected official wasn’t hurt by the dishonest and distasteful actions of one disgruntled employee. Now I just hope that she isn’t still out there in a public role.

  4. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 9:59 am:

    I’m late to the party, but whenever I read an OEIG complaint I try to start with an open mind and so when I get to “personnel real estate business” I’m like “Oh, I hope this isn’t some nonsense about using her state email to have the property tax receipts sent to her or some nonsense like that” and then I get to the bit about her licenses.

    Yeah. That obviously should have raised some red flags when she did it.

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