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Illinois candidate for governor faces accusations

Kansas City residents may be interested in the election drama taking place in the neighboring state of Illinois. A former Illinois state employee has accused Republican gubernatorial candidate state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of sexual harassment in addition to forcing him to do political work while on the clock at his state job.

Ed Michalowski, a former attorney and director in the Treasurer's office, recently filed a lawsuit in Chicago federal court alleging that his former boss began making sexual advances toward him as far back as April of 2011 in Springfield and continued for longer than two years. Michalowski claimed that Rutherford also displayed unwelcome sexual behavior towards him during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Florida.

Michalowski recently resigned from his position in Rutherford's office and waited to file the suit against his former boss until he had secured employment elsewhere.

Both Rutherford and Kyle Ham, Rutherford's chief of staff, are named in the lawsuit. It alleges that during an overnight retreat at the Chenoa home of the state Treasurer, Rutherford informed Michalowski that other staff would also be there, but none arrived. During the night Michalowski slept in the guest bedroom, he alleges Rutherford entered and groped at his genitals. He later reported the incident to Ham, whose response was, "At least we have job security."

Michalowski also alleges that the travel vouchers he submitted for reimbursement for the retreat were falsified at the request of Rutherford, and that Rutherford made him work on state time for Rutherford's political campaign as well as the campaign for former failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

Rutherford denies all allegations and accuses political rivals for the governor's office of being behind the allegations. He plans to continue his campaign.

While the timing of the employee's lawsuit may be suspicious, certainly no employee should be forced to submit to unwelcome sexual advances from an employer. Those who feel victimized should keep detailed notes of when and where the incidents occurred and make their employer aware that his or her behavior isn't welcomed.

A consultation with a Missouri attorney who handles employment law can give people a better understanding of their rights in the matter should they decide to pursue legal action.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Suit accuses Ill. gov hopeful of sexual harassment" Kerry Lester and Sophia Tareen, Feb. 10, 2014

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