Judge Certifies Class-Action Against College

DES PLAINES, Ill. — A federal judge has certified a class-action lawsuit against Oakton Community College that alleges a professor was wrongfully fired.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly’s decision could open the lawsuit to include some of the 79 former employees who had been receiving payments from the State Universities Retirement System, the Daily Herald reported.

The college’s disputed 2015 hiring policy came after it was fined for violating part of Illinois’ return-to-work law, which aims to prevent retirees from working in a public sector while collecting a pension.

Public colleges are penalized when its teachers are paid more than 40 percent higher than their pre-retirement salary while collecting pension payments of more than $10,000 annually.

Former instructor Barry Dayton filed the lawsuit after the policy was implemented. He alleged the policy violates age discrimination laws.

Dayton’s attorney, Nathan Eisenberg, said about 20 former employees expressed interest in joining the lawsuit. More former employees could join the suit in the next 45 days. He argued the college’s policy doesn’t determine how the return-to-work law affects employees on an individual basis.

“That’s a problematic way for an employer to deal with its workforce,” Eisenberg said.

The lawsuit seeks re-employment and payments for damages.

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