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Good news for state supervisors: Immunity means no tort lawsuits

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

If you are a supervisor working for an Illinois state agency, there’s a bit of good news on the lawsuit front. You can’t be personally sued by an employee for exercising your supervisory functions, even if she claims your supervision amounted to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

That’s because the state of Illinois is immune from such suits as long as supervisors are doing what they were hired to do—namely, supervise.

Recent case: Margaret Cortright worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for 20 years until she retired. Apparently, her exit was precipitated by increasingly harsh supervision and falling performance evaluations.

She sued, claiming her supervisors were targeting her because she was losing her hearing and that their comments were cruel. This, she said, constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Appellate Court of Illinois dismissed her lawsuit. It said the state is immune from such lawsuits, and that she couldn’t sue the supervisors directly because they were merely acting for the state when they tried to supervise Cortright. After all, the supervisors had been hired to supervise, and as long as that was what they were doing (even if poorly), then they were acting on behalf of the state. (Cortright v. Doyle, et al., No. 1-07-1339, Appellate Court of Illinois, 2008)

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