Former assistant prosecutor's suit against Madison County set for 2014 jury trial

By Bethany Krajelis | Mar 15, 2013


A former Madison County assistant state’s attorney’s discrimination suit against the county and its prosecutor’s office could face a jury next year.

Electronic court documents signed Friday by U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy show that a jury trial in Theresa Hagans’ case against her former employer has been set for the “presumptive” month of May in 2014.

Hagans, who worked as an assistant state’s attorney from April 1997 until she was fired in July 2011, filed a two-count complaint in September, claiming that her disability played “a motivating factor” in her termination.

She asserts in her suit that she suffers from “fibromyalgia, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea,” a group of ailments and conditions that Hagans contends interferes with her “ability to move about, walk, sleep, work, travel and on occasion, concentrate.”

Hagans’ suit accuses the county and its prosecutor’s office of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act (HRA) when they fired and then refused to consider her for subsequent job openings.

Her federal complaint, which also contends the defendants interfered with her Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights, seeks an award of more than $475,000 in lost wages, benefits and compensatory damages.

Hagans claims that administrators and managerial representatives of the defendants knew and agreed that she was a person with a disability and in 2010 and 2011, granted her requests for “the reasonable accommodation of a modified work schedule.”

According to her complaint, Hagans met with an assistant state’s attorney and office administrator in February 2011 to discuss her need for ongoing accommodations. They, the complaint states, discouraged her from taking leave under the FMLA, but agreed to modify her schedule again.

Hagans asserts that she met with Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons and a special investigator with the office in June 2011, at which time Gibbons set July 1, 2011 as her last day.

Gibbons previously said in a written statement to The Record that Hagans worked in the office’s Child Support Division and “did not live up to the high performance standards I have set for the office.”

In his statement, Gibbons said Hagans had previously been warned for “failing to perform the required duties of her position and then, in this instance, failed to prepare the file or show up in court on time for a trial in which child support was at stake.”

She “also failed to call her supervisor, prior to trial, to let him know that she would not be there,” he added.

Hagans’ claim, Gibbons said in his statement, “was rejected by the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and we expect that the court will do the same.”

Alton attorney Lee Barron represents Hagans and Belleville attorneys Heidi L. Eckert and John L. Gilbert of Hinshaw & Culbertson represent the county defendants.

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