Judge Puts Off Ruling in Suit Against Rutherford - NBC Chicago
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Judge Puts Off Ruling in Suit Against Rutherford

Rutherford was accused of sexual harassment in January



    A federal judge has delayed a decision about granting Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's request to throw out a lawsuit filed against him by a former employee.

    An attorney for former employee Edmund Michalowski asked at a Thursday hearing for a month to respond to Rutherford's motion. Judge Joan Lefkow agreed. She didn't say when she would rule on Rutherford's request.

    Michalowski, who was deputy director of community affairs in Rutherford's office, claims he was denied promised raises and a promotion and was berated for not performing political work. He contends he was sexually harassed by unwanted touching and comments from Rutherford on several occasions, including a night in April 2011 at Rutherford's home when Michalowski claims the treasurer "grabbed at" his genitals.

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    Rutherford denies the claims and says they're politically motivated. The lawsuit came in the midst of Rutherford's failed bid for the Republican nomination for Illinois governor.

    The motion to dismiss, filed by private lawyers acting as special assistant attorneys general, says Michalowski's free speech rights were not violated because he doesn't allege he complained about the work, only that he was criticized for not doing it well.

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    It contends that Michalowski has not shown that Rutherford had a reason to discriminate against him because of his gender, that he was treated differently than other employees, or any pattern of discrimination in the one-term treasurer's office.

    And it says that Michalowski was not subject to a hostile work environment because if the alleged harassment occurred, the incidents were fairly isolated and not sufficient to support the claim.

    Finally, it claims Rutherford should be covered by limited immunity afforded government officials when "the unlawfulness of an official's conduct is not clearly established."

    Rutherford alerted the media to a brewing firestorm in late January without disclosing the substance of the allegations and suggested rival candidate Bruce Rauner was behind it, a claim Rauner denies.

    Rauner went on to win the GOP nomination for governor.

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