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03/12/87 Bettie Land, v. Michael Reese Hospital and

March 12, 1987

BETTIE LAND, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

MICHAEL REESE HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CENTER ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

505 N.E.2d 1261, 153 Ill. App. 3d 465, 106 Ill. Dec. 470 1987.IL.288

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Anthony Bosco, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

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

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

Plaintiff, Bettie Land, brings this appeal seeking reversal of a trial court's order dismissing her two-count amended complaint. In her complaint, Land alleges that defendant Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center (Reese) wrongfully discharged her from her position as executive administrator for Reese's department of surgery. Count I alleges that Land's employment was terminated in violation of the terms of an employment manual adopted by Reese, and count II alleges that Reese failed to honor an agreement that it had made with Land following a grievance procedure hearing. Under both counts, Land seeks to be reinstated to her position with full back pay and benefits.

Pursuant to Reese's motion, the trial court dismissed both counts of Land's complaint. The trial court found that Land was an at-will employee whose employment could be terminated at any time and for any reason.

On appeal, Land claims that the trial court erred in: (1) failing to find that Reese was bound by the terms of a personnel policy manual which Reese adopted subsequent to the beginning of Land's employment; and (2) failing to find that Reese was obligated to comply with a decision by Dean L. Kimmerly, vice-president of Reese's human resource department, which was rendered pursuant to the employment manual's grievance procedure and wherein Kimmerly ordered Reese to reinstate Land with full back pay.

We reverse and remand.

Background

This appeal comes before us following the trial court's ruling that Land's complaint fails to state a cause of action under Illinois law. Accordingly, we must accept as true all of the well-pleaded allegations in Land's complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in her favor. Cook v. Askew (1975), 34 Ill. App. 3d 1055, 341 N.E.2d 13.

Land's complaint reveals that she first became employed with Reese on July 1, 1977. Some time after the beginning of Land's employment, Reese adopted an "Employee Policy and Procedures Manual" (the employee manual). The employee manual contains a complaint and appeal procedure whereby an employee with a grievance can challenge the alleged wrong by participating in a three-step grievance procedure. The grievance procedure begins with the employee's filing a complaint and specifying therein the nature of the wrong alleged to have been committed. If, after the complaint has been filed, the parties are unable to resolve their grievance, a hearing is held before Dean L. Kimmerly, the vice-president of human resources at Reese. In such a hearing, Kimmerly reviews evidence and listens to testimony. After the hearing is held, Kimmerly is required to issue an opinion as to the merits of the dispute.

On February 3, 1984, Land was dismissed from her position at Reese. Land immediately filed a complaint pursuant to the employee manual's grievance procedure. In her complaint, Land contended that she was discharged in violation of due process and in violation of the employee manual's procedures. She further alleged that she was dismissed because of racial and sexual discrimination. As a remedy, Land sought reinstatement with full back pay and benefits.

The dispute remained unresolved, and, on February 27, 1984, Kimmerly held a hearing as part of the third step of the grievance procedure. At the hearing, both Land and Reese presented their respective positions. Following the hearing, Kimmerly issued a three-page written opinion in which he found that Land's dismissal was improper and contrary to employee manual ...


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