Illinois Division Chief Sues for Comp Retaliation

A division chief with the Tri-State Fire Protection District has filed suit alleging his discharge last October was retaliation for him having filed a heart related workers comp claim and using medical leave.

Division Chief David Basek filed suit last week in federal court against the Tri-State Fire Protection District, the Tri-State Fire Protection District Board of Trustees, Hamilton Gibbons, Jill Strenzel, Michael Orrico, the Tri-State Fire Protection District Board of Commissioners, Robert Jewell, William Anderson, Christopher Baumbach, and Michelle Gibson.

The 18 page complaint alleges that Chief Basek was deprived “of his due process rights under the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Illinois” because he was terminated “without providing him the predisciplinary procedures or hearing to which he is entitled”. It also alleges that Chief Basek was terminated “in retaliation for his exercise of rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (“IWCA”).”

Chief Basek developed a heart condition in June, 2011 and filed a workers comp claim in November, 2011. He alleges he was informed that his supervisor was “displeased” that he filed the claim and he began to be harassed. He later applied for FMLA protection. Shortly after he started FMLA leave, he was informed that an investigation was being initiated into vague and unspecified violations.

On October 29, 2012 he was called before the fire chief who informed him that following “an unspecified investigation, the unidentified rule violations had been sustained against Mr. Basek and that she was discharging him from his job as Division Chief, but offered that he could work in a union position of Career Service Lieutenant.” The discharge occurred without notice, an explanation of the charges, a hearing, or an opportunity to be heard.

The complaint includes 5 counts:

  • Count I – due process violation under federal law
  • Count II – due process violation under state law
  • Count III – mandamus request to order his reinstatement and hearing before a neutral hearing officer
  • Count IV – retaliation and discrimination under the FMLA
  • Count V – retaliatory discharge in violation of the state workers comp act

Here is a copy of the complaint.Basek v TriState

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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