By Jonathan Lipman
Former Orland Park cop Roberta Kramarski has settled her contentious and long-running sexual harassment lawsuit against the village for $1 million.
Neither party admits guilt or claims victory in the settlement. Kramarski’s case, in which she charged she was subjected to derogatory comments~ was passed up for special assignments and did not have back-up support from fellow officers on dangerous calls, has played out in media across the region for more than a year.
The village has denied all charges.
Half of Kramarski’s settlement will be split between the two Chicago law firms that represented
her over the three-year case: Potter & Schaffner and Andreou & Casson.
All charges against the village and against Police Chief Tim McCarthy have been dropped.
Kramarski also formally agree.d to leave the village’s police department and never seek employment there again.
Kramarski was fu·ed in December 1999 for failing to follow orders, but that decision was overturned by the Illinois Appellate Court, which blasted the village’s police commission for the tiring. The. court ruled that police supervisors gave Kramarski conflicting orders and then fired her when she could not obey them.
But Kramarski was never formally reinstated to the village police department. She went on disability leave when the village returned her to the payroll, and her negotiations for a permanent disability pension are ongoing, according to the settlement.
For its part, the village village had already overhauled its sexual harassment training program since the suit began.
Village officials declined to comment on the settlement and attorneys for Kramarski did not return calls for comment. The terms of the settlement require both parties to keep theagreement confidential, but Orland Park released the settlement to the Daily Southtown in response to a freedom of Information Act request.
Kramarsk:i and village attorney Thomas Melody signed the settlement agreement Feb. 12. Village officials said in January that any settlement would need approval from the village board before it was signed, but the board has never voted on the matter.
“We thought at one time that it would require a vote to approve the settlement, but it went through the comts and attorneys,” village manager Rick Boehm said. “To accept or reject the settlement was not the village’s issue. It was the insurance company’s issue.”
Mayor Dan McLaughlin said the village’s insurance company, which paid for the legal defense, doesn’t always do what the village, leadership would like.
“There are things they’ve settled before that I haven’t been happy with, and if I had a chance to vote against them, I would have.”
Kramarski, 38, of Palos Heights, filed federal charges against the village in July 1999.
McCatthy has denied the charges and said his department has a strong record of issuing punishment in harassment incidents.
McCarthy and several other officers have given depositions in the case over the last three years, and would likely be called to testify were the case, to go to trial. The depositions include admissions from senior department officials that some of Kramarski’s initial complaints of harassment were not fully investigated.
The end of Kramarski’s case does not mean an end to the scrutiny of the village’s police department. A second female officer, Kar·en Crohan, filed a lawsuit last August that contained similar accusations.
Crohan’s case is still pending and is back in court today.
Jonathan Lipman may be reached atjlipman@dailJ!southtown.com or (708) 633-5979.