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Lawsuit Accuses CTA Of Filming Employees Changing Clothes

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Five CTA current and former employees have sued the agency, claiming it placed hidden cameras in an area used as a changing room at a station on the Green Line, and recorded them undressing last year.

The allegations come less than six months after the CTA acknowledged it was using hidden cameras in work areas at some stations to crack down on employee misconduct.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court by Duane Laba, Steve Affarano, Duffy McGann, Robert Schak and Julia Berkowitz, alleges hidden cameras were installed in the electrical room at the Harlem/Lake station in Forest Park in or before September 2013.

They claim at least four of the employees were fired for stealing company time, but they also allege the electrical room doubled as a locker room for CTA workers, and the agency knew employees regularly changed clothes in the room.

The suit alleges the CTA took no steps to protect employees privacy by making sure the cameras were not filming the locker areas.

Laba, Affarano, Schak and Berkowitz claimed they were filmed while changing clothes in the locker area.

In late October, CBS 2 reported CTA officials admitted placing cameras in the maintenance area at the Harlem/Lake station on the Green Line – and in a room at a facility along the Orange Line – to crack down on waste.

At the time, a CTA spokesman said the agency never has and never would put cameras in changing rooms.

The CTA said it installed the cameras to record employees who were sleeping on the job, sitting around doing nothing, and – in one case – viewing pornography on a personal computer. The agency used the recordings to take disciplinary action against the employees.

CBS 2 obtained video from the Orange Line facility, showing what appears to be an office of some sort, with two desks, one on each side of the room, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a couple lockers.

Video from one of the cameras shows a male employee apparently making an adjustment to his clothes before walking away. The next time he appears, he's in front of another camera facing the other way, changing the camera angle slightly to show more of the room.

Clifford Horwitz, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, also represented the CTA employees in their disciplinary cases.

After the four employees were fired in November, Horwitz said the CTA's disciplinary action went too far.

"Some of these people have never done a thing wrong – not one thing wrong. First offense, and they've been given the most grievous penalty: loss of career, loss of pension, loss of medical benefits. This is devastating," he said at the time.

The CTA declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.

--The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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