By Ruth Fuller, Special to the Tribune
February 1, 2013
A woman who said she worked for Lake Zurich for 14 years as a parks and recreation employee is suing the village for more than $450,000 in relation to "multiple forms of harassment and discrimination," including sexual harassment, according to the complaint filed last week in Lake County court.
Cindy Walter's suit alleges she worked as an administrative assistant to Mike Perkins, who was at that time director of the parks and recreation department, before being fired by the village on April 30, 2010.
According to the complaint, Walter was Perkins' "target for unwelcome, sexually charged comments and gestures concerning her chest," and on numerous occasions, Perkins "'accidentally on purpose' brushed his body against Walter in an unwelcome manner."
Walter also alleges that Perkins created a hostile, offensive workplace environment.
"Perkins distributed an offensive, sexually charged cartoon to department staff, including Walter," according to the complaint.
Timothy Murray, a Barrington-based lawyer representing Walter, declined comment. Perkins no longer works for the village, but village officials including the village manager, the assistant village manager and a law firm representing the village did not return calls. Perkins could not be reached.
In the lawsuit, Walter also alleges that Perkins secretly monitored her e-mail for about two years, but did not monitor any other workers' e-mail. She was never confronted with any e-mail deemed inappropriate, according to her complaint.
After four years "of suffering Perkins' abusive misconduct toward her," according to the lawsuit, Walter met with a human relations representative and detailed her complaints in writing. She was asked to meet with an attorney hired to investigate her complaints, the lawsuit says, at which time she gave the attorney names of people who would corroborate what she said. The co-workers were never interviewed, according to the complaint.
The village administrator wrote a memorandum dismissing her claims, the complaint alleges.
Walter also says in her complaint that she was targeted because she was older than 40 at the time she was fired. The person hired to replace her is younger than 40, she said in her complaint.
In 2006, Walter filed a work-related injury compensation claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission, according to her lawsuit. The village "aggressively fought" Walter's claim, according to the complaint, ordering her back to work when she had a physician's order not to return. At the time of her termination, the compensation claim remained unresolved, according to the complaint.
Walter is due in court next on April 25.
Tribune reporter Lisa Black contributed.