CHICAGO — A state appeals court has upheld findings by the Illinois Human Rights Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights that a Plainfield school district didn't discriminate against a fired female campus monitor.
The plaintiff, Miriam Shimko, worked as a campus monitor at Plainfield North High School in southwest suburban Plainfield for more than four years before being laid off in June 2010 as part of a reduction in force. The school district cited a $16 million budget deficit as the reason for the layoffs.
Shimko filed a charge of unlawful discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in August 2010. She alleged male campus monitors with less seniority were retained.
In that round of staff reductions, the district discharged 20 female campus monitors and six male campus monitors.
After the layoffs, the school had 14 female campus monitors and 12 male campus monitors.
The Plainfield School District argued it laid off more female than male campus monitors because only male campus monitors could perform unannounced checks of male locker rooms and bathrooms, which are part of campus monitor responsibilities.
In July 2011, the state Department of Human Rights dismissed Shimko’s discrimination charge because the school district retained more female than male campus monitors. The Illinois Human Rights Commission sustained the department’s dismissal of Shimko’s charge.
In addition, the commission concluded the school district “articulated a non-discriminatory business reason” for discharging Shimko - retaining a balance of male and female campus monitors - that was not a pretext for unlawful discrimination.
On August 10, the Illinois First District Appellate Court sided with the school district. While Shimko maintained she was able to perform announced checks of male restrooms and locker rooms, the court disagreed.
“We cannot say it is unreasonable for the district to determine it required a certain number of male campus monitors to provide adequate supervision of male-designated areas when only male campus monitors could make unannounced entry in male washrooms and locker rooms,” Justice Nathaniel R. Howse Jr. said in the decision.
Justices Margaret Stanton McBride and Eileen O'Neill Burke concurred.
The court upheld the commission’s finding that the district did not treat other male campus monitors more favorably.
Further, the court affirmed the order of the Illinois Human Rights Commission that the Plainfield School District articulated a non-discriminatory business reason, which was not a pretext for unlawful discrimination.
“In this case the commission held petitioner failed to uphold her burden in sustaining a claim of unlawful discrimination,” Howse said in the decision. “We do not find the decision to be arbitrary or capricious or an abuse of discretion.”
The decision was issued under Supreme Court Rule 23, which limits the decision's use as precendent.