A judge could further increase that amount at a hearing next month.
It may be the first verdict stemming from a whistleblower claim filed under the state's ethics act, a 2003 law that laid out guidelines for behavior by state employees, according to the Illinois attorney general's office. That law includes whistleblower protection for employees who disclose activities they believe violate the ethics act.
"We're not aware of another judgment like this," Attorney General spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said.
The lawsuit by former Chicago State senior legal counsel James Crowley alleged that he was fired in February 2010 after he refused to withhold documents about university President Wayne Watson's employment that a faculty member requested under the state's public records law. Crowley also claimed that he was retaliated against after reporting questionable contracts to the attorney general's office.