Former Park District of Oak Park program manager Greg Evans filed a federal lawsuit against the Park District of Oak Park on Oct. 15, charging racial discrimination. The three-count suit accuses Park District Executive Director Gary Balling and Recreation Superintendent Matt Ellmann of terminating the 21-year park district veteran on the basis of his race, and of creating a racially hostile workplace. It asks for $1.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the park district and $1 million from Balling and Ellmann individually.
Evans, who is African-American, was fired following a meeting with Balling and Ellmann on Nov. 18, 2005. At that time, Evans held the position of manager of Adult Leisure Services.
Balling said Wednesday afternoon he'd yet to hear of the lawsuit. Immediately after Evan's firing two years ago, Balling denied Evan's dismissal had anything to do with race or age, saying it was the result of a park district reorganization that had been discussed for 18 months.
Wednesday he called the lawsuit "regrettable."
"After we review it, we will defend ourselves well and vigorously," he said.
David Porter, Evans' attorney, said Thursday a summons was in the process of being served and should arrive at the park district shortly. "We have 120 days to serve," he said.
Porter added he and Evans had taken their time in filing with both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the federal courts.
"You know, we haven't rushed to court on this," he said.
Evans referred all comment on the lawsuit to Porter but did say, "There's going to be a lot of things that are going to come out of this [lawsuit]."