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Merrill v. Drazek

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 17, 1975.

BARBARA MERRILL ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

ALLEN DRAZEK, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL, ET AL. — (THE DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL, APPELLANT.)



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Edward F. Healy, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This action was filed in the circuit court of Cook County seeking a declaratory judgment, an injunction and other relief. Of the seven named plaintiffs, two were alleged to be officers of the Illinois Union of Social Service Employees, which represents approximately 4500 employees of the Cook County Department of Public Aid. Five plaintiffs were alleged to be employees of the Cook County Department of Public Aid, who "bring this action on behalf of themselves and all other employees of the Cook County Department of Public Aid." The defendants were Allan Drazek, Director of the Illinois Department of Personnel and the President and members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

The relief sought by plaintiffs was a declaration whether as employees of the Cook County Department of Public Aid they were employees of the State of Illinois or the County of Cook, and an injunction enjoining "whichever governmental entity is found to be the employer of plaintiffs from treating plaintiffs any different than its other employees except as permitted by statute."

The circuit court found that plaintiffs were employees of the Illinois Department of Public Aid and that they "are and have been entitled to all job-related benefits of other Illinois Department of Public Aid Employees." The Department of Personnel appealed, the appellate court affirmed (24 Ill. App.3d 29) and we allowed the Department's petition for leave to appeal.

It is not disputed that on January 1, 1974, and thereafter plaintiffs were employees of the State of Illinois, and in issue here is their status prior to that date. The Department of Personnel contends that prior to January 1, 1974, plaintiffs were employees of Cook County. The county contends that plaintiffs were employees of the State and that the judgment should be affirmed. Plaintiffs contend that they were employees of Cook County and ask that the judgment be reversed and the cause remanded to the circuit court "for a hearing on damages."

Prior to January 1, 1974, section 12-18.1 of the Illinois Public Aid Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 23, par. 12-18.1) provided:

"The County Department shall consist of a Director and such other employees as shall be determined by the County Board, all of whom shall be employees of the county and appointed in accordance with the law in relation to civil service in the county. However, the number and compensation of such employees as are assigned to the performance of the functions and duties prescribed in Section 12-2 of this Code, and to the additional functions set out in Section 12-18.2 for discharge by the County Department under the supervision of the Illinois Department, shall be subject to prior approval by the Illinois Department. The Illinois Department may prescribe standards of competence and performance which shall be applied in the selection of such employees and in the evaluation of their work and it may withhold State funds for the payment of salaries of any employees who do not comply with the foregoing provisions."

An amendatory act approved August 23, 1973 (Pub. Act 78-363), effective January 1, 1974, continued the foregoing version of section 12-18.1 in effect until January 1, 1974, and provided that:

"(2) On January 1, 1974, the County Department shall cease to be a governmental instrumentality of the county and shall become an instrumentality of the State and agency of the Illinois Department. On that date and thereafter the County Department shall consist of a Director of Public Aid and such staff as the Illinois Department determines to be necessary. The person serving as the Director of the County Department on the effective date of this Act shall continue to serve in that position on and after the effective date of this Act. Any vacancy in said position which thereafter occurs shall be filled by appointment made by the Illinois Department. Such appointee shall be a person recommended by the Personnel Advisory Board hereinafter established who is a resident of the county, who shall have had at least 5 years experience in responsible administrative capacities in the field of public assistance, and who shall not have been politically active in the 5 years preceding his appointment.

* * *

The Director and the staff designated in subparagraphs (a) and (b) shall be employees of the Illinois Department as of January 1, 1974.

(a) Persons employed by the County Department on December 31, 1973, shall become employees of the Illinois Department if

(i) they are certified under the civil service law applicable to the county, or

(ii) they were performing functions in positions the salaries of which were reimbursable by the Illinois Department under Section 12-18.4 or payable from General Assistance funds under Section ...


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