Cook County Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Lawsuit: Madigan, political orgs retaliated vs female staffer who complained of sexual harassment

By Jonathan Bilyk | Mar 22, 2018

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Saying she was ignored, belittled and then effectively shunned and fired, a female former campaign worker for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political organizations has sued her former employers for allegedly doing next to nothing to address the sexual harassment she said she suffered at the hands of a high-ranking operative within the Madigan organization and the brother of a Chicago alderman.

On March 21, Alaina Hampton filed suit in Chicago federal court against the Democratic Party of Illinois and Madigan’s various campaign organizations, accusing the speaker’s political groups of violating her civil rights by doing too little to rein in Kevin Quinn, who Hampton has accused of a long-running stream of sexual harassment stretching over nearly a year, while she worked in Madigan’s organization under Kevin Quinn.

Quinn is the brother of Chicago Alderman Marty Quinn.

Illinois State House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago)

According to the lawsuit, Hampton began working within Madigan’s various political organizations immediately after graduating college in mid-2012. Through March 2016, the lawsuit noted she had “worked on, managed and ran” for various Madigan allies, including state representatives Sue Scherer, Kathleen Willis and, most recently, Juliana Stratton.

Stratton now serves as the lieutenant governor running mate for Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker.

According to the lawsuit, Hampton’s work on behalf of Stratton apparently caught the attention of Marty Quinn and Madigan, who asked her to take on larger roles within the political organizations through the “Chicago Heights Economic Development Corporation.”

From July 2016 to April 2017, the lawsuit said Hampton again worked on various campaigns, as assigned by her new supervisor, Kevin Quinn, who “is widely known as a high-ranking political operative” for Madigan and the organizations under his control. According to the lawsuit, Kevin Quinn “worked out of Alderman Quinn’s and Speaker Madigan’s 13th Ward Office.”

However, beginning in August 2016, Hampton alleges Kevin Quinn, who, the lawsuit noted, is “15 years older than Ms. Hampton and married with children,” began to repeatedly and regularly subject her to “severe and pervasive sexual harassment by pursuing Ms. Hampton to have a romantic and sexual relationship with him.”

The lawsuit said Kevin Quinn’s alleged sexual harassment continued until February 2017.

 “… During this five-month period, Kevin Quinn called Ms. Hampton repeatedly, late at night, and sent her dozens of text messages asking her out, telling her she was ‘smoking hot’ and urging her to go out with him,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Hampton “repeatedly told Kevin Quinn that she wanted to keep their relationship strictly professional and that she did not want to be involved with him in a romantic or sexual relationship.”

According to the lawsuit, Hampton reported Kevin Quinn’s alleged behavior to Ald. Marty Quinn. During a meeting with Ald. Quinn, Hampton alleged she “personally read to Alderman Quinn examples of the harassing text messages that Kevin Quinn had sent her throughout the prior five-month period.”

However, the lawsuit asserts Ald. Quinn “failed to take corrective or remedial action,” instead telling Hampton “she could ‘block’ Kevin Quinn’s phone number on her phone and that Ms. Hampton would no longer be required to report to Kevin Quinn directly.”

But, the lawsuit said, Ald. Quinn’s suggested next assignment for Hampton, as a “precinct officer,” would be she would remain alongside Kevin Quinn.

In April 2017, “Hampton was constructively discharged and forced to stop working for the Madigan defendants because she could no longer suffer the crippling fear and anxiety she experienced having to work with Kevin Quinn.”

About seven months later, the lawsuit said, Hampton wrote a letter to Madigan, to directly inform him of Kevin Quinn’s alleged harassment. About two weeks after sending the letter, Hampton said she met with Heather Wier Vaught, “a private attorney who serves part time as special counsel to Speaker Madigan” and Madigan’s political organizations.

However, rather than address Hampton’s concerns, Hampton said the attorney “minimized Kevin Quinn’s sexual harassment, told Ms. Hampton that she was not sexually harassed or subjected to a sexually hostile work environment because she was not an ‘employee,’ and flippantly accused Ms. Hampton of wanting to get a ‘front page newspaper story and money,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Hampton was then effectively frozen out of the Madigan campaign organization, and was denied the opportunity to continue working on affiliated campaigns, which she said was in apparent retaliation for her attempt to seek corrective action over the alleged harassment.

Kevin Quinn, however, continued to work for Madigan’s organizations, the lawsuit asserts, until Hampton publicly discussed her experiences with the Chicago Tribune on Feb. 11, 2018.

Kevin Quinn was fired the next day, the lawsuit said.

Hampton also indicates in her lawsuit a belief that Madigan’s organizations “have ignored and/or disregarded other reports of sexual harassment of female employees and volunteers working for the Madigan defendants.”

Hampton has asked the court to award unspecified “actual, compensatory and punitive damages … as well as any affirmative relief necessary to eradicate the effects of the Madigan defendants’ unlawful employment practices.”

Hampton is represented in the action by attorneys Shelly B. Kulwin, Jeffrey R. Kulwin and Rachel A. Katz, of the firm of Kulwin Masciopinto & Kulwin LLP, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. MadiganU.S. District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisIllinois Democratic PartyFriends of Michael J Madigan13th Ward Democratic OrganizationKulwin, Masciopinto & Kulwin, Llp