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Stone v. Department of Human Rights

October 06, 1998

KAREN M. STONE, PETITIONER,
v.
THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS, THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, AND THE VILLAGE OF RIVERTON, ILLINOIS, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

Administrative Review of the Human Rights Commission No. 1996SF0130

Petitioner, Karen Stone, brings this direct review (155 Ill. 2d R. 335) of an order of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (Commission), sustaining the Illinois Department of Human Rights' (Department) dis- missal of petitioner's charges against the Village of Riverton (Village) of gender discrimination in employment and of retaliation resulting in a constructive discharge from her employment. 775 ILCS 5/8-111(A)(1) (West 1996).

The issues are whether (1) the Department and the Commission used the correct legal standard for determining whether petitioner offered sufficient substantial evidence to justify the issuance of a complaint; and (2) whether the decision of the Commission to dismiss her charges constituted an abuse of discretion.

Petitioner's charges of discrimination, filed September 7, 1995, alleged she was hired in August 1993 by the Village as a part-time police officer and applied for two openings for full-time police offi- cers in 1995 but was not hired in favor of male candidates both times. She later added an amendment to her charges on December 5, 1996, alleging the Village improperly retaliated against her resulting in a constructive discharge from her job on September 6, 1996.

In support of her charges, petitioner stated she was doing a good job in her position as a part-time police officer and she was qualified for the full-time position. She claims the Village treated female applicants differently from male applicants. Her qualifications includ- ed 10 years' employment with the Sangamon County sheriff's department as a dispatcher, two years' employment as a part-time police officer with the Village and service with the Sangamon County sheriff's auxiliary pa- trol for five years. Petitioner did not have any training with the Police Training Institute (PTI), but she did have other training, in- cluding seven years with the United States Air Force and the Illinois Air National Guard in munitions work, canine training for 14 weeks, and various training programs offered by the Village and the Sangamon County sheriff.

The first full-time position with the Village for which petitioner applied was given to Thomas Maybury. Maybury's qualifications consisted of two years in his part-time position with the Village, five years with the auxiliary sheriff's patrol with the Sangamon County sheriff and five years as a corrections officer with the Sangamon County sheriff. His training included 200 hours of PTI training in the corrections division at the University of Illinois. Petitioner states in her affidavit filed with the Commission upon review of the Department's decision, Maybury's PTI training was in the specialized area of correctional officer training and is not creditable toward general PTI training. She admits in the same affidavit she and Maybury have comparable firearms training.

The notice the Village provided of the opening for the full-time police officer position stated the position was for federally funded "Community Oriented Policing." It did not state PTI training of any kind was required for the position. However, the Village took into account the PTI hours Maybury had accumulated that petitioner did not have. Marti Dove, a member of the administrative committee for the Vil- lage which interviewed the job applicants, stated PTI training is an issue because it is a statutory requirement officers meet the require- ments set out by the Police Training Board. Dove and other members of the interview committee stated petitioner did not interview well but, rather, tried to convince the committee of the value of canine policing that she could offer the Village and tried to sell her dog rather than herself in her interview. Petitioner states in her affidavit she spoke only twice about her dog and once was in response to a question from the committee.

Petitioner states Todd Williams, a member of the interview committee, asked her if she felt she could get along with the men in the police force as it was all male and asked her if she could handle the job because she was a woman and also small in stature. Williams did not recall making any reference to petitioner being a small woman but did state he asked if she were aware there were no other female officers on the force.

The Department found in its report petitioner and Maybury were equally qualified for the job except for Maybury's 200 hours of PTI training. Further, the Department determined Maybury interviewed better and petitioner did not show the Village's responses were pretext. The Commission found the Village asked all applicants if they had PTI training, which the Village contended was required by statute, and Maybury, unlike petitioner, had this training. The record does not establish whether the kind of PTI training Maybury received was that re- quired by statute. The Commission went on to find the Department's in- vestigation did not reveal the Village's stated reason for hiring Maybury instead of petitioner was a pretext for sex discrimination.

The second full-time position for which petitioner applied was given to Daniel Parrish. Petitioner alleges she was doing a good job in her part-time position and was qualified for the full-time position. Petitioner again alleges the Village treated male officers differently from female officers. Petitioner felt she and Parrish were equally qualified. Parrish also was a part-time officer with the Village and he had three years' seniority on petitioner. His full-time job was with the Sangamon County sheriff's department as a court security officer, a position he had held for six years. He also had experience as a correc- tions supervisor.

The interview committee felt Parrish was better qualified because his experience with the court system and court security was "hands on" while petitioner was only a dispatcher; he lived in the Village, which petitioner did not, and was active in the community activities; he had worked for the Village three years longer than petitioner; petitioner's demeanor during her interview was poor and she again made too many references to how her dog could help the community.

The Department's findings were that both petitioner and Parrish were qualified for the position but the committee felt Parrish was better qualified based on his experience and visibility and rapport in the community; Parrish interviewed better than petitioner; and petitioner did not show the Village's reasons were pretext.

The Commission found petitioner alleged Parrish was less qualified than she but the Village contended Parrish was more qualified because he had more experience in the court system. Further, the evidence did not establish the Village's stated ...


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