Suit: Schiller Park employee fired for age, supporting mayor - KMSP-TV

Suit: Schiller Park employee fired for age, supporting mayoral candidate

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

After working for the Village of Schiller Park for nearly 20 years, a 60-year-old woman was fired because of her age and for political activism in the mayoral election, according to a federal lawsuit.

Joan Rinchisen, who was first hired at the village in 1996 as a police records clerk and transferred to secretary for the Department of Community Development in 2000, filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing Schiller Park of age discrimination and unlawful retaliation.

In April 2013, Barbara Piltaver won the mayoral election, defeating incumbent Village President Anna Montana. Piltaver, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, took office on May 14, 2013.

Rinchisen continued in her village employment from 1996 to 2013, spanning at least four prior election cycles, without any need for rehire or reappointment, the lawsuit alleges. Rinchisen also claims she never received a poor performance review.

But because she publicly supported Montana in her re-election campaign, and posted a large sign in her yard and spoke to others about the incumbent, the lawsuit claims she was unlawfully terminated.

John Zalud, the village's director of Community Development who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, fired Rinchisen "to create job openings for younger employees who had supported Piltaver's election," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit cites a village ordinance that mandates recommendations for employee removal should be based upon merit or qualifications, without regard to political belief or affiliation.

Schiller Park employment policies, which prohibit discrimination of any kind, including age, are also cited in the lawsuit.

"Rinchisen had an expectation of continuing in her position as secretary, provided she desired to do so and performed her duties properly, notwithstanding any change in who served as mayor," the lawsuit reads.

Tuesday's lawsuit alleges the village violated Rinchisen's constitutional rights by retaliating against her.

The four-count lawsuit also claims violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, violation of the 1983 Equal Protection Clause, tortuous interference with a prospective economic advantage.

Rinchisen is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, as well as back and front pay.

A representative from the Village of Schiller Park could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday evening.

--Contact: Atty. Keith L. Hunt, (312) 558-1300.

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