DuPage Township government and an employee fired and then reinstated reached a settlement that was approved by the Board of Trustees at a June 13 meeting.
Linda Youngs, the longtime assistant to Township Supervisor William Mayer, was dismissed at a March 27 meeting by a 3-2 vote. Youngs subsequently sued Township Trustees Dennis Raga, Maripat Oliver and Alyssia Benford, who is the Republican candidate for state representative running against incumbent Natalie Manley, for allegedly violating the Open Meetings Act.
The lawsuit alleged that the three trustees took action in secret before the meeting to fire Youngs. It cited the fact that Bolingbrook police officers were at the meeting ready to escort Youngs out of the building.
The lawsuit sought the reinstatement of Youngs as well as payment of all costs and attorney’s fees she incurred.
Youngs was reinstated with back pay and benefits to the date of her termination at a May 15 board meeting. According to a news release from Youngs’ attorney, Joe Giamanco, of Giamanco Law Partners, he and attorneys for the township reached a former settlement agreement that included the payment of costs and attorney’s fees incurred as a part of the case.
As a part of the agreement, the lawsuit against the three trustees was dismissed on June 7.
“This was an outright win for Ms. Youngs and provided her with the exact relief her lawsuit sought, to undo the actions taken by three of the trustees in violation of the law and to reimburse her for all costs and attorney’s fees she incurred to pursue the matter,” Giamanco said in the press release.
Giamanco went on to state in the news release that they learned after being let go and locked out of her email, someone from the township intentionally deleted months of Youngs’ emails. The news release said it was a clear violation of the Local Records Act.
“This appears to be some kind of game being played by some within the township and whether for personal or political reasons, it needs to stop or it will certainly result in further litigation.”
The dismissal of Youngs upset multiple people in the township, which resulted in some attending Board of Trustee meetings wanting to know how and why the vote came about. Some, such as Diane Itell and Lenora Hansen, were upset because not only were they friendly with Youngs, but they said she had done a lot in terms of organizing programs for children and seniors in the township. Mayer said that since he and trustees are only part-time employees of the township, Youngs did much of the day-to-day aspects of running the township’s programs, such as a food pantry.
Those residents were further upset when the three trustees who decided to vote to fire Youngs did not show up to a scheduled May 8 meeting, for which Youngs’ lawsuit was on the agenda to be discussed in closed session.
“It’s frankly unfortunate that any lawsuit had to be filed,” Giamanco said in the press release. “Prior to filing suit, we attempted to resolve this case with the township, but our demands fell on deaf ears and left Ms. Youngs with no option other than to file.”
The township has been burdened with other issues, including the arrest of Raga for driving under the influence in April. There also was a lawsuit filed against one township trustee for sexual harassment. While township officials have not disclosed who the trustee is, the Herald-News obtained a copy of an agenda for a meeting naming Raga as the trustee.