A pair of former food service employees for Zion District 6 in Chicago have filed a lawsuit against the school district after claiming they were fired and retaliated against in other ways after helping the district investigate a food service manager who was ultimately charged with felony theft.
The lawsuit was filed on August 30, right after that former manager, Karen Bennett, pled guilty to felony official misconduct and took on an alternative prosecution agreement in which she will complete community service and submit a formal apology to the district.
The two whistleblowers, Tyra Gaitan and Amy Glade, claim they assisted the district’s HR in investigating Bennett. Gaitan initially reported Bennett for allowing employees to take home food and to leave without clocking out. Gaitan and Glade both claim to have been verbally abused and threatened by Bennett, who also requested they make changes to state-required documents used for audits.
In their complaint, the pair also claim that even though they helped the district in the investigation upon promises they would be protected from retaliation, Gaitan saw significant increases in workload and both were fired less than two months after Bennett’s resignation.
Bennett had worked for the district for 21 years, and her attorney stated she never took anything for herself, and that the behavior in question was her allowance of subordinates to take home food that was going to be thrown out anyway. If Bennett failed to successfully complete her requirements under the alternative prosecution agreement, she could be sentenced for a Class 3 felony, which would result in much more significant penalties than the program fees, community service and $5,000 restitution she agreed to pay the district.
For more information about how to begin your whistleblower retaliation claim, contact an experienced attorney at Kardell Law Group.