Chicago, IL- State Treasurer and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford has been slapped with sexual harassment suit by a former male staffer who said Rutherford has made sexual advances towards his since 2011.
Edmund Michalowski, 43, alleges that Rutherford sexually harassed him beginning in 2011 and asked him to do campaign work on the state’s dime. When Michalowski reported to his claims to Rutherford’s chief of staff, Kyle Ham, nothing was done to stop the harassment.
In his lawsuit, which emerged last week just weeks before the Illinois Gubernatorial primary, Michalowski, who served as Rutherford’s community outreach and marketing director, claims his boss made repeated sexual advances towards him including an incident in which Rutherford grabbed his genitals.
In April of 2011, Michalowski was invited to overnight office retreat at Rutherford’s home but no other employees were present. The two men ate dinner and as Michalowski was in one of the guest rooms, he was approached by Rutherford who then grabbed his groin area. Michalowski pushed Rutherford away, gathered his belongings and left.
Michalowski’s suit also alleges when the two traveled to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in 2012, Rutherford invited him back to his room. When Michalowski refused, Rutherford allegedly said, “You just said no to the treasurer,” the Chicago Sun Times reported.
The lawsuit alleges Rutherford created a hostile work environment for Michalowski and other employees from April of 2011 to December of 2013.
Michalowski said in the suit he reported the incidents to Kyle Ham, Rutherford’s chief of staff, but Ham didn’t take the allegations seriously, telling Michalowski, ’it had happened to him as well,” and said, “at least we have job security,” according to the lawsuit.
In addition to the sexual harassment claims, Michalowski also alleges that Rutherford asked him to for work for his political campaign.
In a press conference Rutherford denied the allegations, stating that Michalowski’s claims are false and produced documents that contradict the claims outlined in the lawsuit. Rutherford noted that Michalowski is going through a divorce and bankruptcy and was seeking $300,000 to settle the allegations.
Ham said that an investigation showed the claims were false and said there is an additional third-party investigation being conducted now. Ham said the investigation will show Michalowski’s claims are false.
Rutherford also alleges that one of his political opponents Bruce Rauner is behind the lawsuit saying at a press conference that Rauner hired an attorney who helped him review a lease last year.
Michalowski denied his suit was politically motivated telling the Chicago Sun Times he approached Christine Svenson as an employment attorney.
When asked why her client took so long to come forward with the allegations, Svenson said her client was embarrassed about the harassment and was concerned he would be ridiculed.
Ridicule and embarrassment are among the many things people fear when they come forward with sexual harassment allegations. Any man or woman who is facing a hostile work environment should contact a sexual harassment attorney to help them build their case and file a successful suit.