Duckworth Workplace Retaliation Hearing Postponed Until May

The hearing, stemming from a workplace retaliation suit against the congresswoman, was pushed back over a month

The hearing surrounding a civil lawsuit filed against Rep. Tammy Duckworth by former employees in the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs has been postponed until May 12.

The complaint against Duckworth alleges workplace retaliation, although Duckworth denies treating the employees unfairly.

“We don’t really comment on a pending legal matter, but this remains a case a federal judge referred to as a ‘garden variety workplace case’ and has been dismissed in full or in part three times,” Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath told Ward Room.

The date for a hearing on summary judgement in the case was originally set for April 4 but was pushed back this week. The Illinois Attorney General’s office is handling Duckworth’s defense for the case. 

According to the lawsuit, Christine Butler claims she was fired for insubordination after filing complaints against her boss, the facility's director. After later meeting with Duckworth, the termination was reversed within days.

Denise Goins claims that her complaints about the same supervisor led to an unfavorable performance review after initially being ignored. Goins claims the performance review prevented her from receiving a raise. In addition to this, she claims Duckworth told her to "do your job and keep your mouth shut" during a meeting.

Butler and Goins are seeking compensatory damages of at least $50,000, as well as other financial penalties.

Duckworth, who lost her legs piloting a helicopter in Iraq, led Illinois’ VA from 2006 until 2009. She subsequently served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2011.

She recently won the March 15 Democratic primary for Mark Kirk’s U.S. Senate seat.

Kirk and fellow Republicans have repeatedly tried to frame the suit as a “whistleblower” case.

"The one simple fact that is crystal clear about Rep. Duckworth's upcoming trial is that she repeatedly ignored whistleblower reports that veterans were being abused and mistreated, and when the whistleblowers persisted, she tried to fire them,” Kirk spokesman Kevil Artl said in a statement.

Duckworth will face Kirk in the Nov. 8 general election. 

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