- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Fifty-five workers who have been told they’re being laid off by the Illinois Department of Transportation claimed in a lawsuit Friday that they’re being fired to spare Gov. Pat Quinn election-campaign embarrassment over a hiring scandal.

The Democratic governor’s administration fired the so-called “staff assistants” last month in an IDOT shake up over a state investigation that found the agency hired 255 people over 10 years without going through proper channels to give everyone a chance to be hired.

The suit claims there is no merit behind firing the employees but they are just “to provide political cover for … Gov. Quinn in an effort to diminish the harm to his election campaign.”

Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said only that the administration had received a copy of the lawsuit and would review it.

The lawsuit filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court asks that the Sept. 30 termination date the workers face be extended until IDOT turns over documents the workers have requested under the state Freedom of Information Act.

The workers - represented by the Teamsters union - are seeking documents showing why they were dismissed. Employees may be let go in the case of a “material reorganization.” The workers contend that if there were a true material reorganization, documents describing it would be readily available.

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