Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Former Harmony-Emge School District employee alleges work comp, whistleblower violations


By John Breslin | Aug 29, 2019

Short and Daugherty

BELLEVILLE - A former Belleville school district employee alleges he was threatened and then fired for making a workers' compensation claim.

Timothy McGarry, who had been employed by the Harmony-Emge School District until July, accuses his former employer of violating the Workers' Compensation Act and the Illinois Whistleblower Act.

McGarry filed suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the school. 

The Harmony-Emge School District in Belleville did not immediately return a call for comment from the Record.

McGarry, of Collinsville, claims he suffered a workplace injury Jan. 14 and was terminated for "exercising his rights" under workers' compensation legislation. He alleges there is a causal connection between his worker's compensation claim and his termination months later.

In addition to damages for loss of income and benefits, McGarry also seeks a punitive award to "punish the defendant and other entities who are similarly disposed to violate strong public policy of the state of Illinois."

According to the allegation, McGarry was immediately threatened with the loss of his job after announcing he would be making a workers' compensation claim.

On the same day as the workplace injury, he claims he hired an attorney who filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission. McGarry alleges he was "warned by defendant" that he would be terminated for applying for an adjustment of claim.

McGarry claims the warning violates the whistleblower act because it is a protected activity to disclose information to a government or law enforcement agency where the employee believes state or federal laws have been broken, according to the suit. The agency in this case is the industrial commission.

McGarry seeks to be reinstated with seniority status, plus back pay, damages of more than $50,000 and all just relief.

The plaintiff is represented by attorneys Keith Short and Jack Daugherty of Short and Daugherty.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 19-L-538

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