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01/29/87 Glen Bodine, v. the Civil Service

January 29, 1987





504 N.E.2d 182, 151 Ill. App. 3d 895, 105 Ill. Dec. 313 1987.IL.76

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Jerry S. Rhodes, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. McCULLOUGH and LUND, JJ., concur.


On March 16, 1983, the director of the defendant Department of Central Management Services, State of Illinois (Management Services), acting pursuant to section 9(5) of the Personnel Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 127, par. 63b109(5)), approved written charges issued by Management Services against plaintiff, Glen Bodine, seeking his discharge from his position as information systems executive I. Subsequently, hearings on the charges were held before a hearing officer for defendant Civil Service Commission of the State of Illinois (Commission). After the hearings, the hearing officer recommended to the Commission that none of the charges had been proved. On December 14, 1983, the Commission rejected the hearing officer's recommendation and ordered plaintiff discharged.

On January 17, 1984, plaintiff filed a complaint for administrative review in the circuit court of Sangamon County (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 127, par. 63b111a). On October 12, 1984, the court affirmed the decision of the Commission. Plaintiff appealed to this court which reversed and remanded to the Commission with directions. (Bodine v. Civil Service Com. (1985), 134 Ill. App. 3d 341, 480 N.E.2d 160.) On remand, the Commission entered a new order on July 17, 1985, making new findings but still ruling that plaintiff should be discharged. On August 21, 1985, plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court of Sangamon County seeking administrative review of the new order of the Commission. On May 15, 1986, the circuit court pronounced in open court an order finding the Commission decision to be contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence and reversing that order. On May 30, 1986, the circuit court entered a further order making findings of fact and Conclusions of law. Defendants have appealed.

The charges brought against plaintiff before the Commission accused him of "conduct unbecoming a professional management employee, abuse of authority, [and] harassment and interference in an internal investigation." The matter was referred by the Commission to a hearing officer who conducted hearings and, on November 29, 1983, presented to the Commission a written document making numerous findings and concluding that the evidence was not sufficient to prove any of the charges. That Conclusion was rejected by the Commission when it entered the discharge order of 1983. On the prior appeal, this court reversed and remanded because (1) the Commission's decision had been tainted by a letter written by the director of Management Services to the Commission, and (2) the Commission had failed to make findings sufficient to enable a reviewing court to make an intelligent decision (Allied Delivery System, Inc. v. Illinois Commerce Com. (1981), 93 Ill. App. 3d 656, 417 N.E.2d 777).

The Commission order after remand recited that the Commission had reconsidered without reference to the earlier letter from the director. The order then listed certain charges which it found to have been proved, reciting a brief summary of the evidence that supported the charge. On appeal to this court, the defendants maintain that the evidence was sufficient to support the determination of the Commission and that the circuit court was in error in ruling to the contrary. Plaintiff responds by asserting that the circuit court correctly determined that the Commission's decision on remand was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. Plaintiff also contends that the circuit court's decision should be upheld because the Commission did not follow the mandate of this court's decision on the first appeal.

The evidence was undisputed as to plaintiff's position and responsibility. He was employed with Management Services as an information systems executive I. In that capacity, he was the night manager at the Central Computer Facility. Among his duties were: (1) monitor operations personnel in the daily performance of their assigned duties; (2) enforce management directions in areas such as installation security, employee conduct, and the maintaining of accurate attendance records; and (3) discuss problem areas with appropriate management personnel in order to resolve problems. Included were both functional and procedural areas as well as personnel problems. Plaintiff had been in this position since November 1, 1981. The charges found by the Commission to have been proved against plaintiff can be put in five basic categories. Each involved computer operators holding positions in Management Services' chain of command.

The most serious charges involved plaintiff's alleged conduct toward Cheryl Allen, who had been promoted to the rank of computer operator II in September 1982. At that time she was advised by superiors that her bad record in regard to being absent must be corrected. In January 1983, just before the events in question, plaintiff had conducted a two-hour disciplinary session with Allen and her supervisor. She was criticized for various matters, including absenteeism. Beginning February 1, 1983, she was absent for eight days. She claimed some of her absences resulted from severe weather, but her supervisor testified that others were getting to work on those days. On one of the days, she called a male supervisor and said she was not coming in because she had a "discharge and had a test for a social disease." Various witnesses indicated that persons, including plaintiff, responsible for the computer operators were concerned with Allen's performance and were discussing the possibility of discharging her.

The evidence was undisputed that on the evening of February 17, 1983, Allen approached plaintiff when he was in her work area and told him of her fears that she was to be discharged. Allen testified, and plaintiff denied, that he told her not to discuss the matter with Tom Conway, labor relations administrator for Management Services, and that he, plaintiff, had held back a movement to fire her. The parties agree that after this conversation, plaintiff, at Allen's request, gave her a copy of her attendance record for her to give to a union steward.

Undisputedly, on the same night as the previously described decision, another Discussion took place between Allen and plaintiff. No one else was shown to have been within hearing and no one else testified to the nature of the conversation. The substance of the conversation went to the heart of Allen's charge. She testified that plaintiff told her: (1) a movement was underway to fire or suspend her or, at least, have her shift changed; (2) she should not seek help of others for only he could help her; (3) he had been responsible for her promotion and she was indebted to him; (4) he could prevent or lessen sanctions made against her if she would meet him in his car at a shopping center at 1:06 a.m. and have pencil and paper with her so that he could give her certain information (Allen worked a shift from 3:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.). Plaintiff denied making the foregoing statements and testified that he told her she had created her problem and he could not help her. Several of Allen's co-workers ...

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