News Column

Illinois Finds Merit in Hispanic Cop's Discrimination Claim

May 1, 2013

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has found "substantial evidence" that the Tinley Park Police Department discriminated against an Hispanic patrol officer when they passed him over for a specialty position.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has found "substantial evidence" that the Tinley Park Police Department discriminated against an Hispanic patrol officer when they passed him over for a specialty position.

Officer Rudy Rosillo filed a discrimination complaint with the Department of Human Rights on April 25, 2012.

Rosillo claimed that the police department passed him over for a position on a Customs/ICE Task Force the previous winter due to his Hispanic ancestry.

Rosillo has worked for the Tinley Park police department since January 2001. The veteran patrol officer interviewed for the specialty position on Dec. 21, 2011, but was denied the assignment eight days later on Dec. 29.

The department didn't give him an explanation for the denial, Rosillo claimed in his complaint, and hired a "less qualified non-Hispanic candidate."

Later that fall, Rosillo filed a second complaint against the police department, this time alleging that he was discriminated against due to his age.

In that complaint, submitted Sept. 20, 2012, Rosillo claimed that a sergeant told him the position on the task force was "a younger man's job."

Rosillo was 50 at the time he filed the complaint.

Village attorney Tom Melody said he does not know how the situation will be resolved.

"Obviously, we deny any discrimination, and we did not discriminate against Mr. Rosillo in any way," Melody said.

"In my opinion, the claim has no merit," Melody added. "Without discussing the facts of the case, I can tell you the village did not make any decision based on any prohibited characteristic," like race or age.

Melody said that the position on the task force didn't come with any financial benefits.

Yolanda Godwin, the Freedom of Infomation Act Officer for the IDHR, said that the department determined that there is "substantial evidence" backing Rosillo's claim on March 19.

An IDHR staff attorney was assigned to the case on March 28. The attorney's role is to mediate the conflict between the village and Rosillo. If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, Godwin said, the department will file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

Melody said the department has not yet reached out to him to mediate.

If the complaint reaches the Human Rights Commission, Melody said that process is more "adversarial" and he'll be able to cross-examine witnesses. Melody downplayed the board's "substantial evidence" determination, saying the board "determined based on their investigation that it's possible discrimination may have occurred."

Village manager Scott Niehaus declined to comment when asked if the village plans to settle, and declined to discuss specifics of the case "as it is a personnel matter."

Rosillo did not return messages seeking comment.

Tinley Park Police Chief Steve Neubauer declined to comment on the pending case, but said Rosillo is currently a patrol officer on the day shift.

Tinley Park has spent at least $5,661 on legal expenses defending the case before the Department of Human Rights, paid to the firm of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd.

___

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services





Source: Copyright Chicago Tribune 2013


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters