Two cops file second lawsuit charging retaliation, age discrimination suit

? Alleged age discrimination and retaliation by River Forest police department against Rutz and Ludvik. Plaintiff's attorney expects first suit to go to trial soon.

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By BILL DWYER

A second civil lawsuit has been filed against the Village of River Forest by lawyers for officers Craig Rutz, 53, and Thomas Ludvik, 49. The new suit, which claims that Rutz and Ludvik were passed over for promotion last year in favor of 37 year old Sgt. Dan Dooghie, was filed Nov. 8 in Cook County Circuit Court. It requests a jury try four charges that the River Forest police department has engaged in both age discrimination and retaliatory behavior against the two officers in response to their filing the first lawsuit. It contends that Rutz and Ludvik have suffered damages that include "loss of future and past earnings, benefits, attorney's fees and costs."

The suit contends that both officers, being over 40 years of age, are members of a "protected age group" under 1967's Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Subsequent to filing their first civil lawsuit, both officers also filed age discrimination and retaliation complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last May. On August 26, the EEOC issued "right-to-sue" letters to both men regarding the new suit.

As in the 10-count suit filed in March 2003, the four counts in the new suit allege age discrimination and retaliatory action by the department.

The first suit alleges that Lieutenants Rutz and Bruce Higgins, as well as Ludvik, were passed over for the newly created ranks of Deputy Chief for Administration and Deputy Chief for Operations by then Police Chief Michael Holub in May 2002. Those promotions went to then 38 year old patrol officer Kendra Sullivan, and Sgt. Robert Jandritis, despite the fact that at the time Lt. Higgins was Operations Commander and Lt. Rutz was the Administrative Division Commander. Despite that, the suit charges, officers with less supervisory experience and time on the job were selected for the new positions.

Higgins retired from the department last year. Rutz, who retained his lieutenant rank,  currently has no supervisory duties, and is assigned to foot patrol and crime prevention duties. Ludvik is assigned to patrol duties.

Earlier this year attorneys for the village asked Judge Joan Gottschall to dismiss four of the 10 counts in the first suit. Gottschall denied the motion, writing, "Plaintiffs have met the minimal standards required by federal law to state a claim for relief on their various Title VII and ADEA."

In addition, Gottschall has rebuffed efforts by the defense to quash subpoenas demanding personnel records from all four police departments that Holub has worked for.

On Sept. 16, lawyers for the village filed a motion for summary judgment before Gottschall, seeking to have all 10 counts permanently dismissed. The attorney for the officers, David Thollander filed a 25 page motion rebutting in early November.

Thollander expressed confidence last week that the first suit will prevail at trial. That trial, he said, should commence sometime in February or March, saying, "They've lost every motion they've filed so far."

caption: bdwyer@wjinc.com

 

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