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Weatherly v. Illinois Human Rights Commission

April 16, 2003

FREDA WEATHERLY, PETITIONER,
v.
ILLINOIS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AND ITT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE, RESPONDENTS.



Petition for Review of an Order of the Illinois Human Rights Commission

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hoffman

This case is before us for direct review of an order of the Illinois Human Rights Commission (Commission) dismissing, for want of jurisdiction, a complaint charging that the respondent, ITT Technical Institute (ITT), terminated the employment of the petitioner, Freda Weatherly, in retaliation for her opposition to discriminatory practices. For the reasons which follow, we confirm the Commission's order.

On August 6, 1998, ITT fired the petitioner, stating as its reason for doing so that she violated a company rule and committed theft by ordering a calculator for her personal use. On September 10, 1998, the petitioner filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (Department), asserting therein that she was discharged by ITT because of her race. The written charge states, in relevant part, as follows:

"I. A. ISSUE/BASIS

DISCHARGED ON AUGUST 6, 1998, BECAUSE OF MY RACE, BLACK.

B. PRIMA FACIE ALLEGATIONS

1. My race is black and I was the only black employee in my department.

2. My work performance as a Special Service Coordinator was very good.

3. On August 6, 1998, I was discharged. The reason given by Sandee Rusiniak (white), Director of Placement and acting Director, for my discharge was for ordering a personal item which is considered a theft.

4. I ordered a calculator to use in the performance of my job. To my knowledge, I did not violate a work related policy by having ordered the calculator. Lisa Breitenberg (white), Marketing Secretary, was found to have falsified her time card. To my knowledge, she was not discharged. I was replaced by Breitenberg."

The written charge form contains a heading labeled "Cause Of Discrimination Based On." The only box checked under that heading is the one labeled "Race." The box labeled "Retaliation" is not checked.

On June 23, 1999, the petitioner amended her charge of discrimination to include a count based upon retaliation. The written amendment states, in relevant part, as follows:

"II. A. ISSUE/BASIS

DISCHARGED AUGUST 6, 1998, IN RETALIATION FOR OPENLY OPPOSING ...


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