California Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by Former Elementary School Worker

A former elementary school employee has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the school district and her former boss, alleging her superior subjected her and another paid intern to “severe and pervasive” mistreatment based on their gender. She alleges wrongful termination and retaliation. woman

According to The East Bay Times, the plaintiff worked at one of the district’s elementary schools in Contra Costa County. Her boss was the director of technology with the district. She alleges that he asked her numerous times whether she was “satisfied” by her husband. He routinely commented on her appearance, making sexual comments. He also on occasion forcefully thrust his body up against hers and kissed her on the lips without consent. Plaintiff decided she had to report these incidents to human resources when she heard that a paid intern was enduring similar incidents of sexual harassment.

But when defendant supervisor learned of plaintiff’s intention, he reportedly asked to meet with her privately and at that time told her if she pressed forward with her complaint, it would “change a lot of things.” He assured a poor outcome could be avoided if she would avoid making a report. Plaintiff decided to go forward with her complaint anyway. A human resources officer concluded the allegations had merit, and the supervisor was subsequently placed on leave. But he wasn’t fired. He simply took another position as a technology coordinator for a nearby school district. However, plaintiff didn’t get such a sweet deal. 

After making her complaint, she discovered numerous mistakes in the data uploaded into the student information system. For example, there were indications that some students had been suspended or expelled, when in fact they were not. However, rather than correcting these mistakes on the system, she was instructed by the assistant superintendent to report this information on a separate spreadsheet. Then, one day shy of the end of her probationary period, she was fired, with the company alleging her performance was not satisfactory. But this assertion didn’t jive with the facts. Specifically, she had received satisfactory marks in all areas of her performance prior to her termination. Plus, she came to her new job with excellent reviews from her previous employer, at a high school in a nearby district.

She later applied for a number of open jobs in the region in her field. Although she was repeatedly a top candidate, she was never extended a job offer. She now asserts defendant district has unfairly given her poor reviews to prospective districts in an attempt to stall her career in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment. Plaintiff, speaking to a local news outlet, said that while she had only worked at this particular district for a year, she was employed in the education sector for eight years. The ordeal has been not just difficult professionally, but emotionally as well.

The superintendent declined to discuss the employment lawsuit, but insists student data was never inaccurate.

Many claims of sexual harassment involve allegations of a “hostile work environment.” It should be noted that the 2009 California Supreme Court decision in Roby v. McKesson resulted in a finding that employer actions such as demotion and termination could constitute a hostile work environment.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Lawsuit claims sexual harassment, wrongful termination at Oakley school district, Dec. 1, 2016, By Aaron Davis, East Bay Times

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Sharif v. United Airlines – FMLA Dispute Ruling Favors Employer, Nov. 11, 2016, L.A. Sexual Harassment Attorney Blog