Judge gives parties in Duckworth suit until Aug. 24 to settle
The two sides in the workplace retaliation suit against U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth have less than 10 days to finalize a settlement agreement before a Union County judge takes matters into his own hands.
Records from the far Southern Illinois county clerk's office show that on Aug. 3, trial dates for Aug. 15 and 16 were removed from Judge Mark Boie's docket but also note "if (settlement) documents are not received in 21 days, clerk to pull for the court's review."
The case has dragged on for more than eight years, with squabbling in recent weeks over whether a settlement deal from earlier this summer was final.
Duckworth, a Democrat from Hoffman Estates, is running for U.S. Senate Nov. 8 against incumbent Republican Mark Kirk of Highland Park.
Plaintiffs Denise Goins and Christine Butler, workers in the Anna Veterans Home, told the Daily Herald they were insulted by the Duckworth campaign's June 24 response to the settlement in which she described the suit as "a frivolous workplace case." Goins and Butler said that throughout settlement conferences this spring, they had been assured by their attorney that until the paperwork was signed, they had not committed to anything.
But spokeswomen for Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, which represents Duckworth in the case, have said they viewed the agreement as final.
"Within an hour of leaving the courthouse, her campaign decided to swing us through the mud again," Butler said. "So we emailed our attorney to let him know we want to proceed to trial."
The case dates back to 2007, when Goins and Butler alleged Duckworth violated state ethics laws by taking action against them when she was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. The workers contended she tried to fire one of them and gave the other a bad review that cost her raises after the women complained about leadership at the VA home, where they still work.
Duckworth denies treating the employees unfairly.
The original settlement agreement stipulated Duckworth did nothing wrong.