The Oak Lawn Village Board recently approved a $10,000 financial settlement, described as a money-saving decision that puts to rest a former village employee’s lawsuit claiming he lost his job for political reasons in 2013.
Chad Weiler, the village’s former business operations director, named Village Manager Larry Deetjen and the village of Oak Lawn as defendants in the original federal lawsuit filed in July 2014. The suit, which U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly dismissed in February, claimed that Weiler was targeted in a “secret hit list” for political retaliation because he had displayed a campaign yard sign in support of former Mayor Dave Heilmann and Melissa Moran, who was Heilmann’s running mate for village clerk, in the April 9, 2013 election.
Although the lawsuit was thrown out, Weiler planned to appeal the decision, and village trustees voted 5-1 to approve the financial settlement paying Weiler $10,000 in order to put the matter to rest. Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) cast the only dissenting vote.
“I fully support the settlement for saving the village money. I stand by the ruling of the federal judge who found in our favor,” noted Mayor Sandra Bury when the settlement was announced at the Village Board meeting on May 24. She said it was a fiscally responsible decision that benefited Oak Lawn taxpayers.
Bury, who beat Heilmann in the 2013 mayoral election, also asserted that Heilmann had provided legal assistance to Weiler in this case.
In August 2013, Oak Lawn trustees voted 4-2 to eliminate Weiler’s department in a move they said would save village taxpayers $50,000.
But Weiler’s lawsuit claimed that the decision of the village board to eliminate his position was made after he made accusations against Deetjen regarding JenCare’s request that year for a parking variation that would have allowed the medical company to lease space for a clinic in the former House of Brides building at 5433 W. 95th St., in the downtown area.
Deetjen recommended an alternative location at the vacant Men’s Wearhouse site at 6101 W. 95th St., where JenCare runs a clinic now. Weiler’s suit claimed that the village manager’s recommendation that JenCare would be better located on the “outskirts of town” meant Deetjen wanted to keep the primarily black and Hispanic JenCare clientele out of downtown.
But JenCare officials have said the Men’s Wearhouse location better suited their needs, and village officials did not mistreat them.