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12/30/88 Jean Hillman Carroll, v. the City of Galesburg

December 30, 1988

JEAN HILLMAN CARROLL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE CITY OF GALESBURG, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

532 N.E.2d 1048, 177 Ill. App. 3d 814, 127 Ill. Dec. 219 1988.IL.1953

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Knox County; the Hon. Harry C. Bulkeley, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WOMBACHER, delivered the opinion of the court. STOUDER, P.J., and BARRY, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOMBACHER

The plaintiff, Jean Hillman Carroll, filed a complaint against the defendant, the City of Galesburg (the City), alleging that she was wrongfully discharged from her job with the Galesburg police department (the Department). The trial Judge granted summary judgment in favor of the City. The plaintiff appeals from the granting of summary judgment and from the denial of her motion for reconsideration. We reverse.

The plaintiff was employed by the Galesburg police department from December 7, 1975, to August 5, 1980. On April 11, 1980, she married Richard Carroll (Carroll), an officer in the Department. On the last day of her employment she was fired for violating Personnel Rule 1 -- 1.2 of the City of Galesburg, which prohibits a city employee from working with a relative in city employment "in close proximity on a regular day-to-day basis." Galesburg, Ill., Personnel Rules, par. 1 -- 1.2 (1979).

In a deposition, the plaintiff testified that she had worked as a dispatcher and record keeper for the Department. In 1980, she worked a swing shift, working the first shift on Sunday and Monday, the first or third shift on Tuesday, and the second shift on Wednesday and Thursday. She was supervised by Officers Earl Wilson and Tom Worden.

The plaintiff had heard that married employees could not work together but had not seen a copy of Rule 1 -- 1.2. She did not tell anyone in the Department that she was married, although in May of 1980 she admitted to her superiors that she was living with Carroll. According to the plaintiff she was not asked at that time if she was married to him.

The plaintiff testified that Officer Carroll was in charge of the second shift of the patrol division and that he worked in an office that adjoined hers. She said that Carroll did not defend her when she was having problems with the other officers.

James Frakes, the chief of the Galesburg police department, testified in a deposition that the plaintiff and Carroll worked the second shift in 1980. He did not recall what days of the week they had worked. The plaintiff was directly supervised by Officers Wilson and Worden and indirectly supervised by Carroll. In Frakes' opinion, the plaintiff's marriage was bad for morale because Carroll retaliated against officers who argued with the plaintiff.

Chief Frakes testified that the Department's policy when two of its employees married was to give one of the employees the option to transfer or resign, and if he or she did not do so, to bring termination proceedings. Frakes stated that the plaintiff's situation was unique because she had concealed her marriage. In this case both the plaintiff and her husband were relieved of duty on August 5, 1980. On August 6, Carroll submitted his resignation effective August 9, 1980.

Frakes also testified that a moratorium was placed on the enforcement of Rule 1 -- 1.2 in 1967 or 1968 until 1969 or 1970. The reason for the moratorium was that it was difficult to find qualified personnel.

In an answer to interrogatories, Galesburg City Manager Lawrence Asaro stated that four sets of relatives had been employed by the police department since the adoption of Rule 1 -- 1.2. Donald Sparling worked with his brother Ralph from 1966 to 1981; James Foster worked with his son Fred from 1967 to 1978; Ralph Cannon worked with his brother Robert from ...


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