An Illinois Appellate Court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a Sheriff’s office employee that sought backpay related to an unpaid suspension in Coduto
v. Cook County

In August of 2016, an employee in a Sheriff’s office was suspended without pay after he was arrested for his third
offense of driving while under the influence. The Sheriff then filed charges with the Sheriff’s Merit Board seek terminationation of the employee.
While the charges were pending, the employee remained on an unpaid suspension, and two years
after charges were filed, the Merit Board suspended the employee for 180 days.

The Sheriff appealed and the circuit
court upheld the Merit Board’s decision. Neither party appealed this decision. However, the employee subsequently filed a separate lawsuit seeking back pay from the Sheriff’s office for the period of time he was on an unpaid suspension in excess of the Merit Board’s 180-day suspension.

The Sheriff filed a motion to dismiss the backpay lawsuit based on the following: (1)
the employee’s coplaint failed to state a valid mandamus claim; (2) the employee’s sole recourse was to appeal the Merit Board’s decision under the Administrative Review Law; and (3) his claim was brought too late. The circuit
court ruled in favor of the Sheriff and dismissed the case.

On appeal, the Appellate Court upheld the dismissal of the employee’s lawsuit, finding that the employee should have raised the
issue of backpay at the original administrative hearing and
then by filing a  Administrative Review Law action within 35 days of the final decision
of the Merit Board, and his  failure to seek relief
through administrative review was fatal to his case.

Post Authored by Madeline Tankersley & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink