Rest is Good

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  1. Former Hired Truck Program head sues city
    Claims discrimination: ‘There was no reason for terminating me’

    August 5, 2010

    The man who took over Chicago’s scandal-scarred Hired Truck Program when Mayor Daley needed it most — only to get the ax — is now suing his old bosses.

    Bob Benson, 65, former director of internal audit for the city, filed the lawsuit against the city which accuses his one-time supervisor, former Office of Compliance Chief Anthony Boswell, of age and race discrimination. He claims Boswell hired an African-American woman to replace him even though she didn’t have the background required to oversee the all-important internal audit function.

    According to Benson, Boswell, who is African-American, introduced the woman to underlings as “someone he had known for 20 years.”

    “I saw a pattern going on where a lot of Caucasians were being terminated and none were being hired. That told me that Boswell was discriminating,” Benson, who is white, told the Sun-Times on Thursday.

    “He was very sensitive to the City Council and making sure we used minority firms. The percentages we used were way above the requirements and he kept telling me to bring in more and more. Quite frankly, some of these firms were not qualified to do some of the work.”

    Benson noted that he was fired without cause or warning, even though he took over the Hired Truck program at a time when Mayor Daley needed it most.

    “It became quite apparent that he wanted me out and he wanted his person in,’’ Benson said. “He didn’t like the fact that I had a department that was functioning efficiently and he did not have complete control over that.”

    He added: “I was given no advance warning. I was given a copy of my personnel file. There was nothing negative in it. There was no reason for terminating me.”

    Boswell, who couldn’t be reached for comment, resigned in March. Jennifer Hoyle, a spokesperson for the city’s law department, said city officials hadn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.

    While the civil suit will proceed in Cook County Circuit Court, Benson has already lost a battle in his fight. He filed a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, which dismissed the case “for lack of substantial evidence” in June.

    Despite the lawsuit, an independent investigation Thursday cleared Boswell of claims he quashed an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint against Chicago Fire Commissioner John Brooks — the second African-American to hold the post. Brooks has also since resigned.

    Former judge Patricia Brown Holmes, who was appointed to conduct an independent investigation of the harassment claims against Brooks and the cover-up allegations against Boswell, wrapped up her investigation by concluding that there was no wrongdoing by either man.

    “While Brooks’ behavior and comments were inappropriate for the workplace, they did not violate the city’s sexual harassment policy,’’ said Human Resources spokesperson Connie Buscemi.

    The investigation further concludes that Boswell “did not improperly influence the investigation into a Chicago Fire Department employee’s sexual harassment complaint against Commissioner Brooks,’’ she said.

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