The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.
In the case at bar, plaintiff John McGuire challenges his
discharge from employment with the City of Chicago under the
1972 consent decree in Shakman v. Democratic Organization of
Cook County, No. 69 C 2145, reprinted in Shakman v. Democratic
Organization of Cook County, 481 F. Supp. 1315, 1356 app.
(N.D.Ill. 1979). Necessarily incident thereto, McGuire
challenges the classification of his position as exempt from
the constraints of the Shakman decree. See Shakman v.
Democratic Organization of Cook County, 569 F. Supp. 177, 202
Before the Court is the motion of the defendants for
judgment on the pleadings or in the alternative, for summary
judgment. For the reasons stated herein, the motion for
summary judgment is granted.
From January 1, 1973 until September 22, 1983, McGuire
served in the capacity of Deputy Commissioner of Streets and
Sanitation. From January, 1982 until May or June of 1983,
McGuire, by his own admission, had no responsibilities or
duties charged to him. According to McGuire, this was because
John Donovan, then the Commissioner of the Department of
Streets and Sanitation, was an active supporter of Jane Byrne,
who at the time was Mayor of the City of Chicago, while
McGuire supported her political foe, State's Attorney Richard
M. Daley, who himself was a mayoral candidate.
In mid-1983, following the election of Harold Washington as
Mayor, Lester Dickenson was installed as Acting Commissioner
of the Department. McGuire spoke with Dickenson about the
former's situation and was informed that the new Commissioner
would see what kinds of duties could be given McGuire.
According to the deposition
of McGuire, however, at no time did Dickenson assign McGuire
On September 29, 1983, McGuire was terminated from his
position. According to Dickenson, and by McGuire's own
admission, the termination was necessitated because there was
no work for McGuire to do.
As this Court has noted, "It is well settled that an
individual may be terminated from employment for a valid
reason, even if an invalid reason exists . . . so long as the
invalid reason is not the motivating factor behind the
discharge." Gurgone v. City of Chicago, 587 F. Supp. 1347, at
1353, citing Mount Healthy City School District Board of
Education v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 97 S.Ct. 568, 50 L.Ed.2d 471
(1977), and Nekolny v. Painter, 653 F.2d 1164 (7th Cir. 1981).
Thus, an individual whose position is admittedly unnecessary
and extraneous may not challenge his termination in a Shakman
suit. Gurgone, supra. However, if the placement of the
individual in the expendable position was a politically
motivated pretext for the firing of such individual, such
placement or withdrawal of duties would be actionable. Id.
The Court must therefore consider the instant claim as
arising not from plaintiff's ultimate termination but from his
having all duties revoked from him. This occurred in January,
1982, some 21 months before the filing of the instant suit. In
the interim, despite the fact that he was aware that the City
could not impact an employee's status based on political
considerations and that he could have consulted an attorney on
the matter, save for the one conversation with Dickenson noted
above, McGuire did little if anything to regain meaningful
duties, apparently content to draw a salary of $47,472 per
year in return for his performing no meaningful duties
In light of the above factual situation, it is the opinion
of this Court that the plaintiff's claim is barred by the
doctrine of laches which, in the case of government
employment, requires the prompt assertion of rights so that
government service is disturbed as little as possible.
United States ex rel. Arant v. Lane, 249 U.S. 367, 39 S.Ct.
293, 63 L.Ed. 650 (1919); Bown v. United States, 418 F.2d 442,
444 (5th Cir. 1970); Gurgone, supra. In this Circuit, plaintiff
bears the burden of explaining his delay in bringing suit.
Lingenfelter v. Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc.,
691 F.2d 339, 340 (7th Cir. 1982). In the case at bar, despite the
fact that he allegedly knew why he had had his duties revoked
and that he could seek recourse in this Court, plaintiff has
wholly failed to explain why it took 21 months for him to
pursue his rights. Such delay is inexcusable.
For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion for
summary judgment is granted. The motion for judgment on the
pleadings is denied.