ARDC Hearing Board Recommends Discipline For Lawyer Who Collected Disability Benefits While Practicing Law

Filed September 14:

This is a hearing board decision which can be appealed. The Panel explained:

After suffering an injury while working as a police officer with the Cook County Sheriff’s office, Respondent remained off work and collected temporary total disability benefits for more than two years. During this time, Respondent also worked as an attorney and assumed a paid position as an elected member of the McHenry County Board. Respondent did not obtain approval to work these secondary jobs as required by workplace rules, which might have reduced the amount of disability benefits he received. The Administrator proved Respondent engaged in dishonest conduct by intentionally failing to obtain approval for his secondary employment while on disability in order to continue to collect full disability benefits and earn income from his other jobs….


After considering all of the evidence presented, we find this charge was proved by clear and convincing evidence. We find Respondent had a duty to report and obtain approval for his secondary employment, but failed to do so. We also find Respondent continued to work his secondary employment knowing he did not have the necessary approval, because he wanted to continue to collect his full disability benefits while also receiving additional income from his other jobs. We further conclude this conduct by Respondent was dishonest, in violation of Rule 8.4(a)(4)(1990) and Rule 8.4(c)(2010).
The evidence clearly established Respondent had a duty while he was off work and receiving disability benefits to report his secondary employment and obtain approval to work these additional jobs. The sheriff’s general order makes it clear that CCSO employees who wish to work secondary jobs must submit the required secondary employment form on an annual basis and obtain approval each year to begin or continue such employment. Adherence to this procedure was also established by numerous witnesses who testified at the hearing, including many of Respondent’s own witnesses. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate employees are excused from complying with these rules and procedures when they are off work and collecting disability benefits.
The evidence further established Respondent was well aware of this requirement, as well as the procedures he was required to follow, because he had submitted the necessary forms and obtained approval to work many secondary jobs in the past, including his job as an attorney. Respondent’s history also demonstrates he knew he was required to re-submit the forms and obtain approval each year, regardless of whether the employment had been previously approved and regardless of whether his superiors and others in the office were aware of the employment.”


The Hearing Board recommended a one-year suspension.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

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