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02/11/87 Sylvia Perez, v. the Civil Service

February 11, 1987

SYLVIA PEREZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

505 N.E.2d 1067, 153 Ill. App. 3d 176, 106 Ill. Dec. 276 1987.IL.155

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Brian B. Duff, Judge, presiding.

Rehearing Denied March 30, 1987.

APPELLATE Judges:

Justice Linn delivered the opinion of the court. McMorrow, P.J., and Jiganti, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

The Illinois Civil Service Commission (the Commission) and the Department of Registration and Education (the Department) bring this appeal seeking reversal of a trial court's ruling that the Commission lost jurisdiction and could not, as a result, conduct a hearing on the merits of plaintiff Sylvia Perez' discharge from employment. Perez had previously been discharged from her position with the Department for, inter alia, allegedly falsifying official time report documents. Following her discharge from the Department, Perez requested a hearing before the Commission.

Prior to the hearing, Perez made a discovery request for over 500 documents that were in the Department's possession. Several months later, while the documents were still being gathered, Perez filed suit in the circuit court of Cook County asking the trial court to enjoin the Commission from continuing with Perez' discharge hearing. Perez claimed that the Department had failed to comply with her discovery request and that this failure resulted in her hearing being unreasonably delayed in violation of the Personnel Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 127, par. 63b 101 et seq.).

Following a hearing on the matter, the trial court agreed with Perez that her rights under the Personnel Code had been violated and that as a result, the Commission's jurisdiction to hold a hearing on the merits of Perez' discharge was terminated. That being the case, the trial court barred the Commission from continuing with Perez' discharge hearing and ordered the Department to reinstate her with full back pay and benefits.

The Commission now appeals contending that the trial court erred in ruling that the Commission lost its jurisdiction to conduct a hearing on the merits of Perez' discharge.

We reverse the ruling of the trial court and remand this matter to the Commission for a hearing on the merits of Perez' discharge.

Background

Plaintiff, Sylvia Perez, was employed by the Department as a certified licensing investigator from August 1975 until June 29, 1984. On June 29, 1984, Perez was suspended for, inter alia, allegedly falsifying official time report documents and for violating time limitations for completing reports.

On August 3, 1984, Perez filed a request with the Commission seeking a hearing on the merits of her discharge. A hearing date was set for August 21, 1984. On August 10, 1984, however, Perez filed a discovery request with the Department. The discovery request asked for over 500 documents and sought interviews with six employees of the Department. In addition, however, Perez requested that the August 21, 1984, hearing be continued to a future date.

The Department objected to the continuance. Nevertheless, the Commission granted Perez' request and continued the hearing to October 17, 1984. Subsequently, pursuant to the Department's request, the hearing was continued to January 15, 1985. The Department asked for the continuance in order to fully comply with Perez' previous discovery request.

By agreement of both parties, the hearing was again continued to March 13, 1985. Prior to that date, on March 11, 1985, however, Perez filed a motion to dismiss with the Commission. In her motion, Perez claimed that the Department had failed to comply with her discovery request within a reasonable period of ...


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