Carle settles with Sprout

By Nate Sandstrom

Lynn Sprout and Carle Foundation Hospital reached an agreement Wednesday night during the penalty phase of Sprout’s case that charged the hospital with firing her for being a lesbian.

Sprout was fired in 2002 and filed a complaint with the city of Urbana, alleging that Carle had violated the city’s Human Rights Ordinance, which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. Although Carle argued that Sprout was fired because of poor job performance, the Urbana Human Relations Commission – which handles Human Rights Ordinance cases – concluded in a December preliminary ruling that Carle was guilty of discrimination.

The commission was scheduled to determine a penalty this week.

Sprout, who did not attend Tuesday’s hearing but was reached at her home, said she could not go into details about the settlement.

“We came to an amicable agreement,” she said.

Sprout did say she was glad Carle had changed its policies to provide equality for all sexual orientations.

“I’m real proud of Carle. They’re trying their best to change along with the times,” she said.

Sprout said she could not say Carle revised its policies because of her. But Kimberlie Kranich, co-founder of the 85% Coalition, an activist group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, said the coalition’s work in support of Sprout had been influential in the policy changes, raising public awareness and the preliminary guilty verdict against the hospital.

Kranich said she was happy with the outcome.

“If Lynn decided at this stage to reach some kind of agreement, and that’s what Lynn wants to do, we support it,” Kranich said.

Commissioner Peter Resnick said the Human Relations Commission accepted the withdrawal on the condition that Sprout could not bring the same charge up again.

Resnick said that although the commission initially ruled that Carle violated the city’s Human Rights Ordinance, Carle is not considered guilty because Sprout withdrew her case.

Carle spokeswoman Gretchen Robbins did not return phone messages last night.