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Probationary State Employee Legally Terminated

Seventh Circuit of Appeals denied First Amendment retaliatory claim and violation of procedural due process rights.

Samone Redd, a probationary employee with the Cook County Department of Correction, witnessed an argument outside of a Chicago residence and rode with Detective Doughty to locate the perp. When Doughty asked for a statement, Redd denied having seen the battery and signed no official statement. Convinced Redd was withholding information, Doughty contacted Assistant State's Attorney Weber to obtain her statement. DOC External Operations Officers refused Weber and Doughty access to Redd at the county jail. A subpoena was issued for Redd to appear before the grand jury. Weber's bullying tactic failed to persuade Redd into changing her statement.

When Weber filed a complaint against Redd with the County Sherriff's Department for failure to cooperate in an ongoing investigation and providing false statements, Redd alleged Weber and Doughty conspired to interfere with her employment. After Redd was eventually discharged from the county's employment, she filed a civil suit claiming First Amendment retaliation and retaliatory discharge and a violation of her due process rights for refusing to commit perjury.

After the county was granted summary judgment by the Magistrate Judge, Redd appealed.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's ruling that Redd failed to establish Doughty acted with intentional interference when Weber filed the complaint. Her procedural due process violation claim was also dismissed because she failed to show a state law, an ordinance, a contract, or other limits that prevented the sheriff from discharging her. Because she was still within her probationary period, she did not possess a property interest in continued employment. The reviewing personnel determined that Redd had signed a document to abide by DOC's General Orders and Procedures. She violated them by not cooperating in the investigation. The Seventh Circuit stated the sheriff had the authority to terminate an employee on probation for any reason.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the properly granted summary judgment on the due process claim. See: Redd v. Nolan, 663 F.3d 287 (7th Cir. 2011).

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Related legal case

Redd v. Nolan