BENTON – Madison County government and state’s attorney Tom
Gibbons must both defend a retaliation suit of former secretary Andrew Kane, U.S.
District Judge Phil Gilbert ruled on July 26.
He denied a motion to dismiss Kane’s claim against the
county, finding Kane sufficiently pleaded the claim.
He rejected the county’s argument that Kane worked solely
“The complaint clearly indicates that Kane believes the
county was one of his employers and that he believes the county is therefore
liable for the discrimination and retaliation he suffered on the job,” he
“Generally, employment is a common sense concept that needs
no detailed factual allegations to put a defendant on notice of the alleged
employment relationship and its role in the plaintiff’s asserted right to
relief,” he wrote.
Kane was hired in 2010, and fired in 2012 on
charges that he threatened blackmail and exhibited racism.
He complained to the Illinois Human Rights Commission,
which issued a notice of substantial evidence in his favor.
He won reinstatement in arbitration, but Gibbons didn’t take
He sued Gibbons and the county in circuit court, and Circuit
Judge Barbara Crowder ordered reinstatement in 2013.
Gibbons complied, but Kane later resigned.
Kane sued Gibbons and the county in federal court this
February, claiming conditions at work constituted retaliation for winning in
His lawyers, William Buchanan and Lee Barron of Alton,
claimed Gibbons and the county treated him in a demeaning, insulting and
They claimed that Gibbons assigned Kane to manual labor at
an isolated location, and that he barred Kane from appearing at his office.
Gibbons retained attorney John Gilbert of Edwardsville, who
answered by arguing that Gibbons reinstated Kane to a position consistent with
Attorney Gilbert wrote that the position was not demeaning
and the assignment did not constitute an adverse action under the Civil Rights
Attorney Gilbert filed no answer to the claim against the
county, arguing that Judge Gilbert should dismiss it because Kane didn’t work
for the county.
Judge Gilbert ruled that Kane’s complaint satisfied the
requirements for pleading, but he left the question of employment open for the
summary judgment stage.
“Until that stage, it is sufficient that the county be able
to glean from the complaint that Kane believes it employed him and that it was
therefore responsible for improper employment actions taken against them,”
Judge Gilbert wrote.
Gilbert has set trial next May.