7-19-2011; The Illinois Legislature Thrusts WC Reform, Five Arbitrators Parry

Last week, five Illinois Arbitrators joined as a group of Plaintiffs and are suing the Governor and members of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The state-wide and national media claims these five Arbitrators are “likely to lose their jobs.”

In the federal complaint filed in the Central District of Illinois, the five Arbitrators affirm they did nothing wrong, but will probably be replaced anyway under a law passed this year. They also complain Gov. Pat Quinn damaged their reputations by saying their termination and replacement was among needed workers’ compensation reforms.

Their attorney, Carl Draper of Springfield is quoted: “These people had vested rights in their employment, and they (the rights) can’t be taken away from them when they haven’t done anything wrong.”

The lawsuit, which also names members of the Workers’ Compensation Commission as defendants, seeks an injunction to block the firings and asks the part of the new law that calls for the firings to be found unconstitutional. It also seeks money damages. All arbitrators had their terms end July 1, 2011 but they can continue working until Governor Quinn reappoints them or names replacements.

As we have advised repeatedly, the five Arbitrators who have filed this action are all solid and hard-working hearing officers who know the law and nuances of our workers’ compensation system. We have never suggested there is any value in the way they have been treated in the 2011 Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act.

We feel Governor Quinn and his administration supports a “heads-must-roll” brand of managing government which allows him to replace veterans with newbies from his inexperienced friends and political pals. We don’t feel “newer-is-better” and hope this litigation may end in a result favorable for our top administrators. It is our hope the Governor and his administration starts acting to improve state government and not keep constantly reacting to look like something is happening simply because it is different than the current make-up.