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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Court Upholds Public Employee Residency Requirement

The City of Chicago requires all of its teachers to become City residents within 6 months of being hired.  If a teacher is found in violation of the policy, the City will first give them a warning and 60 days to come into compliance.  If they fail to comply, they can be terminated.  During an audit of employee records, the City discovered that two teachers lived outside the city.  At an administrative hearing on their proposed termination, the teachers admitted that they did not live in the City.  The teachers' defense to the termination was that because the City had waited so long to enforce the policy against them, the case against them was "stale."  However, they were both terminated and appealed to the courts.

On appeal, the appellate court upheld the City's termination of the teachers.  First, the teachers were clearly in violation of the City's residency policy.  Second, the fact that the City failed to enforce the policy for years did not excuse the employees engaging "in a high risk strategy of living outside Chicago." They had been put on notice that they were in violation and chose to ignore it until they were terminated.  Finally, the court rejected their argument that living outside Chicago is not a sufficient cause for termination, finding they waived that argument.  However, the court did note that public employee residency requirements have been long upheld as constitutional.  Crowley v. Board of Education of Chicago (Mar. 31, 2014) 


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