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Former employee files suit against city alleging wrongful termination, workplace harassment

Nora Shelly, City Editor

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A former Evanston employee has filed a lawsuit against the city and a former supervisor alleging breach of contract, “willful and wanton conduct” related to alleged workplace harassment and improper termination.

Kenya Evans, who was employed in the Public Works Department, filed the lawsuit in the Cook County Circuit Court last week. The defendants in the case are the city and Evans’ former supervisor, Suzette Robinson. Evans alleges in the suit that Robinson harassed her during her employment at the city, making fun of her clothing and calling Evans a “stripper and a prostitute on numerous occasions.”

According to the suit documents, Evans was hired in March 2014 and fired in July 2016.

According to the suit, Robinson was accused of harassment ranging from derogatory comments about her clothing or hometown to purposely speaking into Evans’s left ear, which is deaf. Evans is also alleging other city employees witnessed the harassment.

According to the suit, Evans frequently missed work or left early due to the harassment from Robinson, as Evans reported it caused daily headaches, vertigo, stress, loss of sleep and appetite, unease and other physical symptoms.

The suit says Evans originally denied the harassment was taking place out of fear of reprisal, but eventually reported it in either March or April 2015. Evans is not aware of any investigation into the matter. In March 2016, she was placed on a 90-day probation to improve several deficiencies in her work, the suit says.

According to the suit, complaints against Evans included “needs to be more attentive to details, that she is spending too much time engaged in non-work related socialization during work hours including allegedly excessive personal texting and telephone calls.”

Later, claims Evans was making “excessive use and abuse of the sick leave policy” were filed. The suit also alleges the city did not produce witnesses and documents asked for in several of the disciplinary meetings.

Evans was eventually fired in July 2016, after meetings about her work performance and a pre-disciplinary meeting in June 2016, according to the suit.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz declined comment on the issue, citing the pending litigation.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @noracshelly

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