Family dismisses discrimination lawsuit

The family of Nicole Hladik, a 25-year-old Hinsdale firefighter/paramedic candidate who took her own life in July 2020, has voluntary dismissed a discrimination lawsuit it filed against the village and Lt. Tom McCarthy of the Hinsdale Fire Department, the village announced Monday.

The suit was filed in June 2021 by Hladik’s widower, Daniel Zaborowski, who was represented by Jim Pullos of Clifford Law Offices. It accused McCarthy, as commander of Hladik’s division, of publicly ridiculing her to get her to quit and alleged that other village staff were aware of the harassment.

“After discovery in the lawsuit, the village advised the Hladik family the village planned to seek sanctions against them for filing a frivolous lawsuit,” the village’s press release states. “In return for the village’s agreement not to seek sanctions, the Hladik family agreed to dismiss their claims against the village and Lt. McCarthy with prejudice.”

Pamela Menaker, communications partner at Clifford Law Offices, said the firm has no comment on the matter.

Hladik became the fire department’s only female firefighter when she was hired Aug. 2, 2019. She was just weeks short of the end of her 12-month probation when she died by suicide.

Following her death, the village spent $103,000 for a federal prosecutor to conduct an investigation, which resulted in a 36-page report. It included internal interviews and a release of relevant records, according to a statement the village released at the time. Hladik’s family, who refused to participate in the investigation, questioned the report’s validity at a January 2022 village board meeting.

The lawsuit, filed in June 2021 in Illinois Northern District Court, had called for compensatory and economic damages, attorney’s fees and other relief.

“The Village of Hinsdale continues to extend its most sincere condolences to Ms. Hladik’s family, friends and coworkers,” the release states.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean