Attorney Courtney Mayo successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of a public school department in an action brought by a teacher alleging discrimination and constructive discharge based upon age.
The plaintiff, a 43-year old middle school engineering teacher, filed suit against his former employer alleging he was constructively discharged when his position was unexpectedly reduced to part-time status. The plaintiff alleged that the municipal defendant had penalized him for his failure to embrace a curriculum shift which focused more on new engineering technology and less on traditional woodshop activities and, as such, discriminated against him based upon his age. As grounds for his claims, the plaintiff argued that his supervisor referred to his teaching style “old school” and that the new curriculum was “the way of the future.” Moreover, the plaintiff alleged that he had received several warnings by his employer prior to the reduction of his position and that each warning constituted an incident of discrimination.
Attorney Mayo argued that a budgetary cut led to the reduction of the plaintiff’s position from full-time to part-time status. Mayo argued that the school district properly followed the District’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and exercised its discretion in reallocating spending to focus on special education programs following notification of low standardized test results in the special education subgroup. Lastly, Attorney Mayo argued that none of the warnings issued to the plaintiff constituted adverse action by the School but instead arose from a variety of unrelated infractions such as calling students names and the discovery of serious classroom violations jeopardizing student safety during woodcutting activities.
Judge Rya W. Zobel found in favor of the defendant school district stating that while the school could have made budgetary cuts in other departments, the defendant’s choices were discretionary and did not constitute discrimination. Further, Judge Zobel found that while the plaintiff had a contentious history with the defendant, there was no evidence of discrimination on the part of the municipal defendant.