socastcmsRssStartBy Cole Lauterbach & Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Incoming Gov. J.B. Pritzker is preparing to take office, but his legal team is still fighting discrimination claims made against his election campaign.
Pritzker’s attorneys filed a motion to have the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by campaign workers dismissed. The motion said the lawsuit “lacks factual allegations giving rise to Defendants’ individual liability or to plausible claims of discrimination based on race, hostile work environment, or retaliation.”
Stratton said they hired a diverse campaign staff.
“Over 45 percent of our entire campaign staff was comprised of people of color,” she said. “These individuals have chosen to pursue this path and we will take that course of fighting it in court.”
Attorney Shay Allen, who represents the plaintiffs, said the racial makeup of the campaign doesn’t allow campaign officials to discriminate against minorities.
“Having a diverse staff doesn’t nullify the fact that you still have to have a work environment that’s free of discrimination and harassment,” he said.
In a response to media outlets on the day of the campaign workers filed suit, Stratton <a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/illinois-playbook/2018/10/17/october-surprise-in-the-govs-race-why-a-nod-from-chance-doesnt-matter-tunneys-got-challengers-329230" target="_blank">said the staffers staffers threatened to go to the press if they didn’t get $7.5 million in 24 hours</a>. In turn, the plaintiffs filed allegations of defamation of character against the campaign, claiming Stratton used her public platform to cast them in a false light.
Stratton said: “When people feel like they have been harassed or discriminated against, they have the right to come forward and have their voices heard, in this case, we had a letter delivered to us asking for $7.5 million dollars in 24 hours or they threatened legal action and to go to the press. That’s not a good-faith effort.”
Allen said that was wrong.
“People can’t’ go around in the public realm, especially ones of that magnitude, making such derogatory comments about those individuals,” he said.
In reference to those charges, Pritzker’s attorneys said Stratton made the statement with a “non-criminal meaning” akin to saying someone is a crook, inferring that they’re dishonest, not an actual criminal.
“Even if Ms. Stratton actually called Plaintiffs ‘extortionists,’ the statement amounts to ‘[m]ere name calling’ or ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ that cannot support a defamation claim,” they wrote.
The parties are due in court next Tuesday.