CICERO, Ill. (CBS) — The town of Cicero will be forking over $500,000 as part of a settlement to a former town worker.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Sharon Starzyk had sued Cicero and Town President Larry Dominick, alleging that she was fired from her job as operator of the town animal shelter because she accused Dominick of sexually harassing her.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
She dropped the sexual harassment claim against Dominick a few weeks ago, but went forward with her wrongful termination claim, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In September, the Sun-Times reported that Starzyk accused Dominick of sending her smutty text messages and groping her, including one incident in which he “grabbed a breast (and) passed some gas” before getting out of the car at an animal rescue site.
Town officials claimed Starzyk was fired in October for “irregularities in management,” the Tribune reported.
Under the terms of the settlement, Starzyk’s attorney will take $150,000, and the rest will be paid to Starzyk in installments, the Tribune reported.
The Town of Cicero is not admitting any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, the newspaper reported.
In a separate case this week, a federal judge ordered a new civil trial for a wrongful termination lawsuit by another fired Cicero town employee. Six months ago, Merced Rojas won a verdict of $650,000 in damages, on claims that Dominick fired him for political reasons.
Rojas claimed he was fired in 2006 because he is Hispanic and because he was no longer a Dominick political loyalist. His attorney, Dana Kurtz, told jurors that the firing, retaliation and betrayal almost destroyed Rojas and his family.
But U.S. District Judge James Holderman threw out the jury’s decision, saying Kurtz “engaged in a pattern of misconduct” by trying to introduce inadmissible and prejudicial evidence tainting the jury’s verdict, the Tribune reported.
Rojas claimed he was fired in 2006 because he is Hispanic and because he was no longer a Dominick political loyalist. The original jury did not agree with the racial discrimination claim.