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Alexander v. Fair Employment Prac. Com.

OPINION FILED APRIL 25, 1980.

PHYLLIS ALEXANDER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ILLINOIS FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. LUTHER H. DEARBORN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GREEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 30, 1980.

Plaintiff, Phyllis Alexander, appeals an order of the circuit court of McLean County entered on February 20, 1979, affirming an order of defendant, the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), entered on October 14, 1977, dismissing a complaint made to that agency by plaintiff.

Plaintiff's complaint was filed on May 19, 1975. It was based upon section 3(d) of the Fair Employment Practices Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 853(d)) which states that:

"It is an unfair employment practice:

(d) For any employer, employment agency or labor organization to discriminate against any person because he or she, reasonably and in good faith, has opposed any practice forbidden in this Act, or because he or she, reasonably and in good faith, has made a charge, testified or assisted in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under this Act; or

In her complaint, plaintiff alleged that she had been dismissed from her employment as a teacher by defendant, Board of Education of Octavia Community Unit School District No. 8 of McLean County, Illinois (School District), in retaliation for her having filed a previous complaint with FEPC.

The evidence before FEPC indicated that plaintiff's dispute with the School District arose from the following set of events. She was employed by the School District as a high school teacher beginning with the 1973-74 school year. In the spring of that term contracts for the following year were negotiated between the School District and the Octavia Educational Association. These included provisions for extra duty activities for teachers and the extra pay to be received for these services. Plaintiff had been school newspaper sponsor during her first year and was paid an additional $306 for this duty. Her new contract, which she signed, reduced her pay for the work to the sum of $140. Some testimony indicated that she was told by persons in the administration that she would not be expected to perform her duties in this respect except during school hours, while other testimony indicated that she had merely been told that some of the work could be done during school hours. Most of the female teachers who engaged in similar extra-duty work received similar pay reductions, and most male teachers, predominantly those involved with athletics, received pay increases for their work.

Plaintiff and various of the female teachers were dissatisfied with the arrangement and discussed the matters among themselves and consulted with an attorney during the summer of 1974. They apparently felt that they had not had adequate representation on the negotiating team and that the School District had not allowed them to have enough input into the pay schedule adopted. The next fall they filed a grievance with the School District pursuant to the provision of an agreement between the Octavia Education Association and the School District. While negotiations were pending, they apparently became dissatisfied with the progress, hired a different attorney and, on January 21, 1975, filed complaints, in which plaintiff was a complainant, with defendant FEPC charging the School District with sexual discrimination in its employment practices with them.

Subsequently, on March 17, 1975, the governing board of the School District unanimously passed a resolution which provided in part that plaintiff's contract would not be renewed for the 1975-76 school term. The following reasons were given for this action:

"1. Failure to communicate with faculty and supervisors.

2. Failure to carry out the extra curricular duties assigned by the building principal during the 1974-75 school term.

3. Failure, on occasion, to supervise students working on the high school newspaper while assigned to and ...


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