Judge doubles back pay owed to fired Chicago State employee - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Judge doubles back pay owed to fired Chicago State employee

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A Cook County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ordered Chicago State University to pay a former employee double the amount of back pay a jury had awarded him, plus interest, in a whistleblower lawsuit believed to be the first filed under the state's ethics act.

Judge James McCarthy doubled — to $960,000 — the pay awarded to CSU's former senior legal counsel James Crowley, and ordered CSU to pay $60,000 in interest, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

"I am grateful the judge saw fit to award me the full amount set forth in the statute," Crowley, 47, said after Tuesday's hearing.

A jury on Feb. 18 had awarded almost $2.5 million — $2 million in punitive damages and $480,000 in back pay — to Crowley, whose 2010 lawsuit alleged he was fired in retaliation for reporting university improprieties to Illinois' attorney general.

The jury had also ordered CSU President Wayne Watson — named in the suit along with the school's board of trustees — to give Crowley his job back.

Crowley's award in the case — believed the first claim under Illinois' decade-old State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, which is designed to weed out corruption by public officials and protect state employee whistleblowers — now stands at nearly $3 million.

The state attorney general's office has said it knows of no other such case.

A provision in the ethics act allows a judge to decide to double the back pay in such cases, as well as to add interest and/or order the government entity to pay the plaintiff's attorney fees. A university representative said the judge's decision was not unexpected.

"It was a predicted outcome. Our position has not changed. We intend to move forward to appeal this case," said spokesman Tom Wogan.

The judge is expected to make a determination on awarding of attorney fees and the terms of Crowley's reinstatement at a future hearing.

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