Olendzki v. Rossi, No. 12-1340 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Olendzki is a psychologist at an Illinois state prison. After he was elected to his union’s Executive Board, Olendzki began to advocate for fellow union members and to voice concerns to management. Olendzki believes that this advocacy led to hostile relationships with his superiors and caused them to retaliate against him by removing him from a hostage crisis team; ordering him to meet with mentally ill inmates without guard supervision in the same room; relocating his office; increasing his workload; filing a harassment claim against him; not providing a written justification to Olendzki’s request for advance leave time, which resulted in the denial of the request; and revising institutional directives that affected Olendzki’s job duties without Olendzki’s input. Olendzki was never fired, disciplined, or denied an employment opportunity. He sued six of his superiors under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that they retaliated against him for his union advocacy, a violation of his First Amendment rights. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that Olendzki was acting as a union official, not as a public employee, when he made the statements at issue, so that they were not protected under the First Amendment.