Sunday, September 24, 2023
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Ex-Agency Director Loses Challenge to His Firing

(CN) - The 7th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by the former director of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, who was fired for allegedly altering his time sheets and viewing pornography on a state-issued laptop. The court said he lacked a property or liberty interest in his job.

Gerald Covell claimed the commission fired him and leaked false information about his termination without giving him the chance to clear his name. He said the disclosure of the stigmatizing information barred him from getting another job.

The district court dismissed the case, saying Covell failed to show that he had a property or liberty interest in his job or that the agency had to show he was fired "for cause."

Agreeing, the three-judge panel in Chicago rejected Covell's appeal.

Rules governing the commission "make clear that Covell's position ... was terminable at will," Judge William Bauer wrote, citing language that the director "shall serve at the pleasure of the Commission."

The court also tossed Covell's claim that the agency violated his due-process rights by disclosing why he'd been fired without offering him a hearing to defend himself.

"This court cannot find any evidence that any individual defendant disseminated the stigmatizing information to the public," Bauer wrote.

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