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06/28/88 Darrell Farmer, v. Richard Mcclure Et Al.

June 28, 1988





526 N.E.2d 486, 172 Ill. App. 3d 246, 122 Ill. Dec. 227 1988.IL.1010

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Roger Kiley, Jr., Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. BILANDIC and SCARIANO, JJ., concur.


Defendants Richard McClure and Michael Tristano, former and current Directors of the Illinois Central Management Services , appeal from a mandamus order and a mandatory injunction commanding plaintiff's certification as an apprehension specialist employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections ; restoration of all benefits as though he had worked continuously since his discharge, including an award of full back pay; and restraining defendants from enforcing the order of plaintiff's discharge. Defendants also appeal denial of their motion to dismiss plaintiff's mandamus count.

Defendants ask that we review whether: (1) the mandamus count in plaintiff's complaint stated a cause of action; (2) the doctrine of sovereign immunity barred the mandamus and injunctive relief sought; (3) the mandamus and injunctive relief granted was in error. We affirm.

Plaintiff was hired as a DOC apprehensions specialist on December 17, 1984, after achieving a "well qualified" score on his examination. The job involved investigating fugitive warrants for escaped criminals or parole violators and locating and apprehending such fugitives.

Plaintiff served a six-month probationary period. After successful completion of probation, State employees achieve certified status. (80 Ill. Adm. Code 302.310 (1985).) No probationary employee may be discharged without approval of the Director of CMS, who may approve discharge of a probationary employee at any agency's request after considering the employee's performance records. (80 Ill. Adm. Code 302.320, 302, 780 (1985).) State agencies are required to prepare two evaluations of six-month probationary employees: one at the end of the third month and the other 15 days prior to the period's ending. 80 Ill. Adm. Code 302.270 (1985).

On his first evaluation, plaintiff was rated positively: he met five of the "assigned" objectives and exceeded one. In the "general appraisal" categories, he exceeded expectations in two and met expectations in the remaining six categories. He was not shown as needing improvement or failing to meet objectives in any category. In the "remarks" section of his evaluation, plaintiff's supervisor noted his "very professional manner," "excellent" performance, and that his value to his unit was "demonstrated by his initiative and resourcefulness in all assignments."

In early 1985, plaintiff decided to run for State representative in the next election. He claimed he was warned it would be a mistake and could cost him his job. In March 1985, he and another trainee arrived at a parking lot in Springfield, pulled behind a vehicle with a man standing in back of it and asked the man, who turned out to be Michael Lane, DOC Director, if he was in the apprehension unit. Lane considered that the two trainees he observed in the parking lot behaved in a disruptive and unprofessional manner, informed his deputy director, Douglas Brown, and asked him to investigate. Lane later learned plaintiff was involved, but asserted he did not instruct Brown to fire him.

Plaintiff received no disciplinary warnings or suspensions; instead, several letters of commendation were received for his work. On June 10, 1985, he learned that he and his partner, veteran apprehensions specialist Carl Flagg, ranked second among the 20 to 22 teams in northern Illinois.

Harold Thomas, Superintendent of the DOC Area 1 Community Services Division, prepared favorable evaluations of approximately 27 probationary employees for the six-month period ending in June 1985, including plaintiff. Thereafter, Thomas' superior, Brown, by telephone, ordered Thomas, without reason, to change plaintiff's evaluation so as to prevent his certification. Thomas refused. Thomas never before had been asked to change an evaluation of a probationary employee. If "Springfield" disagreed with him, they had to so indicate in writing.

Thomas' secretary, Laura Lenkowski, had a telephone conversation with "someone" in Springfield, who dictated new wording for the supervisor's remarks section of the evaluation form. She could not recall any other certification recommendation that had been overruled, but had been instructed, on occasion, to change some category evaluations when ...

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