By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network
CHICAGO — A lawsuit filed by a former campaign worker against the Democratic Party of Illinois alleging harassment and retaliation is moving forward after a judge denied the party’s motion to dismiss the case.
In March, former campaign worker Alaina Hampton sued House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political operation for allegedly retaliating against her after she made allegations of sexual harassment against a manager.
Hampton claimed Kevin Quinn, a high-level Madigan political operative, made repeated unwanted sexual advances. After reporting it internally, she said she was retaliated against and blocked from working on other campaigns.
A judge denied the Democrats’ motion to dismiss the case Tuesday. Hampton’s attorney, Shelly Kulwin, said she appeared Wednesday in front of the judge for an update on the discovery process.
“The plaintiff has the burden of proof in the case,” Kulwin said. “We have our version of events. We have to find out what their defenses are based on the emails and documents and letters and correspondences they may have. It’s also important to establish certain legal requirements that they are the employer, payroll records, things of that nature.”
Kulwin said they’re pursuing a joint employer theory, saying the Democratic Party of Illinois and the Friends of Michael J. Madigan organizations are one in the same.
Republican Party Executive Director Travis Sterling said the judge’s decision showed that “Madigan’s operation has fostered a culture of harassment, intimidation and bullying.” He also said the decision could have implications at the ballot box on Nov. 6.
“What’s shameful is that while other Democrats spoke out against Mike Madigan when these allegations first surfaced, J.B. Pritzker couldn’t muster a single criticism of Madigan,” Sterling said in a statement. “Pritzker is Madigan’s handpicked candidate and he put his campaign ahead of the concerns of women.”
Pritzker faces incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the gubernatorial race.
A status hearing in the case is set for January.
Messages seeking comment from Madigan’s spokesman and from the Democratic Party of Illinois were not immediately returned.
Kulwin said the case could be settled out of court.
“But you never know,” Kulwin said. “If it goes all the way through all discovery and pre-trial filings by both sides to end the case early, you could be looking at another year from now before the case goes to trial.”
Madigan, through a spokesman, previously denied either organization retaliated against Hampton.