AG Orders Release of $33k Settlement Agreement From Illinois Retaliation Suit

The Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office has determined that an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by a former Lincolnwood Fire Department paramedic is a public record, and must be released. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by Josh Weller against the Village of Lincolnwood and Paramedic Services of Illinois.

Lincolnwood sub-contracted with PSI to provide fire and EMS services to the village. Weller, a PSI employee, claimed he was retaliated against and fired because he complained about discriminatory treatment of a female coworker and on-duty drug use by a fire officer. He sued alleging a violation of Title VII, state law discrimination, retaliatory discharge, whistleblower violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and tortious interference with a contract.

The case was apparently settled in December, 2018, but attorneys for Lincolnwood refused public records requests from the Skokie Patch for the settlement agreement. The village  contended that because Weller worked for PSI, the settlement was not a public record.

Citing an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that held that certain records of village contractors are in fact public records, The Patch sought a determination from the Attorney General’s office. Based on that decision, the settlement agreement was released some 18 months after it had been entered into. The settlement gave Weller $33,000. More on the story.

Here is the original complaint:

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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