Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oregon School District Defends Four Sex Discrimination Suits

A school district that hasn't had a sex discrimination lawsuit in decades is now dealing with four. Over the past several months, former employees have filed separate, unrelated sex discrimination suits in federal court against the Salem-Keizar (Oregon) School District. The Salem Statesman-Journal reports that the district already settled with one plaintiff, a language teacher named Viola Carlile, who had alleged that a high school principal retaliated againt her after she rebuffed his sexual advances.

Two other cases are in discovery. A former high school teacher alleges that she was harassed by two special education instructors while supervisors refused to transfer her to another school in the district and instead subjected her to retaliatory employment conditions. She seeks $300,000 in damages. In a separate case, a former middle school teacher, William Warren, alleges that the principal terminated his position as girls' volleyball coach because of his sex; the complains suggests that, in the wake of a sexual molestation scandal involving another teacher in the district, the principal did not think men should not coach girls teams.

In the lawsuit most recently filed, a 21-year-old former instructional assistant, Andrew Distad, seeks $21 million in damages. Distad alleges that he was offended by sexual jokes made by co-workers and teachers and by their insensitivity to his desire not to be alone in a room with any woman other than his wife. Because he was unable to comfortably attend work under these conditions, Distad argues he was constructively discharged, in discrimination of his religion and sex.