And Now A Few Words About The Rights Of Recorder Employees

There seems to be confusion among some elected officials, including Democratic City Central Committeepersons, regarding the rights of Recorder of Deeds employees.

Recorder of Deeds employees who are whistleblowers have the right to sue if we are retaliated against. We can sue for retaliation against reporting wrongdoing and violations of law or public policy. We can sue for retaliation against refusal to perform an illegal act or act contrary to public policy.

Recorder of Deeds employees are not at-will employees. We can be fired for cause and only cause. Sharon Carpenter is not coming back to power and punishing everyone who did not remain “loyal” to her. She can try, but she won’t win. And it will be very costly for her.

Recorder employees cannot be fired for our politics. Not yet anyway.

There are court cases that speak to this right of ours to have a political life of our own and not be political indentured servants.

In the 1976 Elrod v. Burns case, Democrat Richard Elrod was elected Cook County Sheriff (Illinois), replacing a Republican. Employees were told they had to switch parties or would be fired. Employees were fired and they sued. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that firing non-policymaking employees solely because of their politics was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The result of this case is that non-civil service public employees may be hired for their politics but may not be fired for their politics.

In the 1980 Branti v. Finkel case, Democrat Peter Branti Jr. was appointed Public Defender by the Rockland County Legislature (New York), replacing a Republican. Two Assistant Public Defenders, Republicans, believed they were about to be fired because of their political affiliations and brought suit for an injunction against dismissal. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, again, that firing non-policymaking employees because of their politics was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The Court also said it would be acceptable to fire a policy-making employee for his political beliefs only if those beliefs interfered with discharge of duties.

In the 1983 Barnes v. Bosley case, Democrat Freeman Bosley Jr. was elected St. Louis City Circuit Court Clerk, defeating Democrat Joseph P. Roddy in the primary. Three Court Clerk employees were fired by Bosley and they brought suit for dismissal because of their political affiliations. The U.S District Court Eastern District ruled that two of the dismissed employees had been fired in violation of their First Amendment rights, while a third had indeed been in a policy making or confidential position for which there was no First Amendment protection.

manualpoliticalRecorder employees cannot be fired just because a new Recorder takes office.

Recorder employees do not have to donate to any candidate or ward organization.

Recorder employees do not have to work the polls Tuesday.

Recorder employees have political rights. In fact, it’s in our Recorder of Deeds Personnel Manual as amended by Recorder Jennifer Florida.

Sharon Carpenter is not going to come back and restore the patronage system to the human chattel institution it was under her tenure. She can try, but she can’t win. And it will be very costly for her.

– Marie Ceselski

 

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