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Shakman Monitor

Noelle Brennan served as the “Shakman Monitor” for the city of Chicago, and was responsible for ensuring that political considerations do not unlawfully influence city employment decisions.  Noelle worked with the city to achieve an atmosphere that was free from unlawful political discrimination in hiring.

Background on the Shakman Decree

In 1969, a federal civil lawsuit titled Michael L. Shakman, et al., v. Democratic Organization of Cook County, et al., Case No. 69 C 2145, was filed by a group of plaintiffs against various defendants including the city of Chicago and its Mayor. In 1972, several defendants, including the city of Chicago and its Mayor, entered into a consent decree with the plaintiffs to resolve some of the claims made in the lawsuit.

For the great majority of positions within city government, the 1972 consent decree specifically prohibited the city from “conditioning, basing or knowingly prejudicing or affecting any term or aspect of governmental employment with respect to one who is at the time already a governmental employee , upon or because of any political reason or factor.” A subsequent consent decree was entered in 1983 that extended these prohibitions to the city of Chicago 's hiring practices as well. These agreements have collectively come to be known as the Shakman Decrees. 

On July 26, 2005, the plaintiffs in the Shakman lawsuit filed an application to hold the city of Chicago and its mayor in civil contempt for violations of the court orders. On August 2, 2005, Judge Wayne R. Andersen, the federal district court judge presently assigned to the Shakman civil lawsuit, appointed Noelle C. Brennan as the court's monitor in an effort to “ensure future compliance” with the Shakman Decrees. As part of its appointment order, the court directed the monitor, along with her appointed legal counsel, to study the city of Chicago 's “existing employment practices, policies and procedures for non-political hiring, promotion, transfer, discipline and discharge.” Further, the court ordered the monitor to propose a “mechanism for ensuring future employment actions [by the city] are in compliance with the Court's previous Orders.”

On June 16, 2014, the Court found that the City of Chicago was in substantial compliance with the Shakman Decrees. At that point, Noelle’s tenure as Shakman Monitor ended.