In the aftermath of a trial that saw Karen Ray, a Jefferson County High School journalism teacher, awarded $225,000 in punitive damages for sexual and age discrimination, two new trials emerged targeting the very same school district.
The original suit filed by Ray alleged that she had been bullied out of her job and endured threats from the administration. She said this resulted in a hostile work environment. Among the individuals named in the lawsuit was the high school’s principal.
Afterward, two more lawsuits emerged. The first of them, brought by Gretchen Guitard, accuses the district’s administration of much of the same conduct that cost them $225,000 in punitive damages in the case that Ray brought.
Guitard alleges that she and another teacher at the school, Tammy Ferry, faced retaliation and discrimination for their alliance and sympathy with Ray’s case. She stated that the harassment began after her public opposition to discriminatory practices in the workplace. She later filed complaints with the Missouri Human Rights Commission.
The district later sued the Human Rights Commission in an attempt to force the Commission to take back the green light it granted Ferry and Guitard to sue.
Guitard Suit Settled for $400,000
According to a recent press release, the suit, which named the school district’s superintendent and the CFO, was settled by the JCPS lawyers for $400,000. As a condition of the settlement, Guitard would be forced to drop her claims against the district and not pursue further action. The district itself will be forced to pay $250,000 to Guitard on top of $45,000 from the district’s insurance company. The insurance company is also to cover Guitard’s attorney fees, which are $105,000.
Guitard had been employed by the district since 2006 and left in 2016-2017 amid the harassment. She was the district’s director of curriculum and staff services, a title which apparently no longer exists. She is now the superintendent of the Jamestown C-1 District.
No Settlement Reached on the Second Lawsuit
No settlement has been reached on the second lawsuit filed by Tammy Ferry, but if recent trends can be projected into the future, the settlement is likely to go her way. The district now has a target on its back for singling out female employees as part of an ongoing campaign of harassment and retaliation. Such behavior is prohibited by Missouri State and Federal Law, which has resulted in the district having to fork over nearly $700,000 in damages with yet another lawsuit pending.
It is unclear if there will be a shakeup in the school district’s hierarchy following these results.
HKM Employment Attorneys of Kansas City Handles Workplace Discrimination Cases
For those that have been harassed, intimidated, threatened, or discriminated against in the workplace, there are a number of avenues available to you to receive the justice you deserve. The Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, nation of origin, religion, or disability. If you have suffered harassment, give HKM Employment Attorneys of Kansas City a call at 816.607.4691 and we will begin discussing your case and working toward an equitable resolution.