The village of Brookfield will pay a former longtime employee $95,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission complaint and related Illinois Department of Human Rights charges filed earlier this year when the employee’s position in the village manager’s office was eliminated.
Village trustees voted 4 to 0 on May 27 to accept the settlement agreement with Theresa Coady, who had worked as an administrative assistant in the village manager’s office for 20 years.
The settlement agreement includes a gag order for both sides on discussing the specific charges, the settlement negotiations and the terms. If asked, according to the agreement, the parties are instructed to state that the terms speak for themselves and that “the dispute has been amicably resolved.”
In agreeing to settle the EEOC charges, the village continues to deny Coady’s unspecified allegations and admits no liability. Coady, for her part, will not pursue further legal action by accepting the terms of the deal.
While the settlement agreement does not specifically address the charges Coady filed with the EEOC and Illinois Department of Human Rights, it does specify that $38,333 of the amount being paid to her are “compensatory damages arising from emotional distress and psychological injuries.”
In addition, the village will write Coady a “settlement check” for $25,000 and also, write a $31,666 check to Vucko Law LLP, the firm representing Coady in the EEOC action against the village.
The village also agreed to provide any of Coady’s prospective employers with a “neutral reference,” stating her dates of employment and that she left the village’s employment “in good standing.”
According to a memo included with the village board’s meeting packet for May 27, the financial impact to the village related to the settlement was $25,000, which is the amount of the settlement check paid in the form of wages to Coady.
The Intergovernmental Risk Management Association (IRMA), the village’s liability insurance carrier that is also a signatory to the settlement agreement, apparently is covering the remainder of the cost of the deal.
Coady started working for the village of Brookfield in 1999 and served as an administrative assistant for four village managers, including Dave Owen, Riccardo Ginex, Keith Sbiral and Timothy Wiberg.
In early 2018, shortly before he resigned as village manager, Sbiral had announced internally to staff that he was promoting Coady to the position of assistant village manager. However, he reportedly had never talked about such a change in organizational structure with elected officials, and the promotion apparently never was made official.
At the time Wiberg announced his intention to eliminate Coady’s job in order to search for his own top assistant, Coady’s title was director of administrative and residential services.
Wiberg received the village board’s blessing to act in February. Coady by that time had already filed her complaint with the EEOC and she remained on administrative leave until her job officially terminated on April 30.
At the time, Wiberg said Coady was free to apply for the assistant village manager position, but it was clear that was not going to happen given the circumstances.
Following a three-month search that drew about 80 applicants, Wiberg hired George Issakoo as assistant village manager. He started in that newly created position on May 13.