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Redemske v. Village of Romeoville

OPINION FILED JUNE 12, 1980.

YVONNA REDEMSKE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE VILLAGE OF ROMEOVILLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. THOMAS VINSON, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE ALLOY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, the village of Romeoville, appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Will County ordering it to reinstate plaintiff, Yvonna Redemske, to her position with the village and awarding her $6,123.97 in damages for wrongful discharge. Mrs. Redemske had been a radio dispatcher with the village from 1966 until her discharge in April 1977. She was discharged specifically for riding in a political parade on April 17, 1977, within the village limits. Her discharge was based expressly upon a village ordinance authorizing the dismissal of any village employee who takes "an active part in a campaign for elective office for the Village of Romeoville."

The circuit court held that the legislature had not delegated to the village the power to so limit political activity on the part of its employees. It found such ordinance to be beyond the authority delegated by the General Assembly. Having so ruled, the circuit court did not address the constitutional issues raised by plaintiff. The court ordered the village to reinstate Yvonna Redemske and also award her back wages, in the amount of $6,123.97. The village of Romeoville appeals and argues (1) that the court erred in concluding that the ordinance was unenforceable due to the lack of statutory authorization from the General Assembly, (2) that the ordinance is constitutional on its face and as applied, and (3) that damages for back pay, in any event, should not have been awarded.

The record reveals that in April 1977, plaintiff Yvonna Redemske had been employed by the village of Romeoville since 1966. She was a civilian employee, not a commissioned officer, and was assigned to the police department as a police matron, serving as a radio dispatcher. In April 1977, there was in effect a village ordinance which restricted the political activities of certain of the village's employees. The ordinance provides:

"WHEREAS, Chapter 24, Section 10-4-1 of the Illinois Revised Statutes provides `The corporate authorities of any municipality may provide by Ordinance in regard to the relation between all municipal officers and employees in respect to each other, the municipality, and the people', and

WHEREAS, the President and the Board of Trustees of the Village of Romeoville believe it to be in the best interest of the Village and the Village's employees to restrict the activities of its employees in political activities of the Village of Romeoville.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF ROMEOVILLE, WILL COUNTY, ILLINOIS: that:

Section 1: Employees Regulated. Any employee who is a participant in any retirement or pension system as a result of his employment with the Village of Romeoville shall be subject to the regulations of this Ordinance regulating political activity.

Section 2: Improper Political Activity. Any employee shall be dismissed for improper political activity.

Improper political activity shall be defined as:

1. Becoming a candidate for nomination or election to any elective office of the Village of Romeoville.

2. Soliciting any monetary contribution to the campaign funds of any political organization supporting a candidate for public office of the Village of Romeoville.

3. Making any monetary contribution to the campaign of any candidate for elective office of the Village of Romeoville.

4. Taking an active part in a campaign for elective office of the Village of Romeoville.

5. Acting as a partisan worker at the polls or distributing badges, pamphlets or handbills of any kind favoring or opposing any candidate for election or nomination to an ...


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