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EXPLOSIVE LAWSUIT: LAKEWOOD SCHOOL FIRED EMPLOYEE FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT




A newly filed lawsuit reveals explosive allegations that a school in Lakewood fired an employee in retaliation for requesting a medical leave and for complaining about sexual harassment, FAA News has learned.


According to the complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court:


The plaintiff was employed by the school from May 22, 2022, until her unlawful termination on June 21, 2023. During her employment, she had a record of strong performance.


At one point, she suffered three meniscus tears in her left knee.


In or around May or early June 2023, she advised her manager that she had scheduled her necessary knee surgery for August 4, 2023. She requested leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) for her knee surgery and related recovery, and she completed and submitted all required medical leave documentation.


Shortly afterwards, on June 15, 2023, she advised her manager by text message that a male employee of the school had been harassing her with his continued flirting. 


Specifically, he had been invading her personal space by standing over her to make her feel uncomfortable, going out of his way to speak to her, staring at her, and signing up for work assignments that put him into her proximity.


Her manager responded by calling her after working hours, yelling at her, and mocking her harassment complaint, stating that the colleague had “never even asked” Plaintiff “out on a date.”


Her manager told her that she was scheduling a meeting for the following Tuesday.


That meeting was attended by school administrators.


During the meeting the administrators threatened to fire her due to her upcoming surgery. They specifically told her that her job is “not secure” because she was intending to take a medical leave of absence to recover from surgery.


Also during the meeting, the administrators admonished her for being dropped off at work by her family and accused her family of “intimidating staff.”


It was obvious to her that they were simply looking for a reason to terminate her. 


On the following day, June 21, 2023, she was terminated. During the telephone call terminating her, the school administrator specifically alluded to her upcoming medical leave.


The complaint alleges five counts, asserting that the school refused to accommodate her scheduled knee surgery and they terminated her because of her disability and/or in retaliation for requesting a medical leave and/or for complaining about sexual harassment.


COUNT I - FMLA Interference


The school employs more than fifty people and therefore, is covered by the Family Medical Leave Act. Plaintiff was eligible for FMLA leave. Plaintiff informed Defendant of the need for leave. 


Defendant never advised Plaintiff of Plaintiff’s eligibility for FMLA leave. Defendant never advised Plaintiff of the rights and responsibilities under the 

FMLA. Defendant never advised Plaintiff of any return-to-work date under the FMLA. 


Defendant terminated Plaintiff as a result of the request to take FMLA leave. Defendant’s violation of the FMLA’s notice requirements, refusal to provide 

Plaintiff with FMLA leave, and termination of Plaintiff’s employment have interfered with the 

rights guaranteed to Plaintiff under the FMLA. 


COUNT II - FMLA Retaliation


At all times, Plaintiff performed at a level that met Defendant’s legitimate expectations. 


Plaintiff exercised rights under the FMLA. After exercising those rights, Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff by wrongfully terminating her. 


Defendant’s termination of Plaintiff constitutes retaliation in violation of the FMLA.


COUNT III - LAD- Disability Discrimination


Plaintiff is disabled. Plaintiff had been satisfactorily performing her essential job functions or could 

have done so with reasonable accommodation. Defendant terminated Plaintiff because of a disability.


Defendant’s termination of Plaintiff’s employment constitutes an adverse employment action. Defendant’s actions constitute discrimination on the basis of Plaintiff’s disability that violates the LAD.


COUNT IV - LAD Failure to Accommodate Disability / Interactive Process


Plaintiff is disabled. Plaintiff had been satisfactorily performing her essential job functions or could 

have done so with reasonable accommodation.


Defendant was aware of Plaintiff’s disability and was made aware of Plaintiff’s requested accommodation. Defendant did not make a good faith effort to assist Plaintiff in seeking accommodation. Defendant refused to provide Plaintiff with reasonable accommodation and instead terminated her employment. 


Defendant’s actions constitute a failure to accommodate Plaintiff’s disability and a failure to engage in the interactive process in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.


COUNT V - LAD Retaliation


At all times, Plaintiff performed at a level that met Defendant’s legitimate expectations. 


In complaining about sexual harassment and requesting medical leave, Plaintiff exercised rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. After exercising those rights, Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff through termination. Defendant’s termination of Plaintiff constitutes an adverse employment action. 


Defendant’s conduct was willful, reckless, malicious, especially egregious and done with the knowledge and participation and/or reckless indifference of upper-level management. 


As a result of Defendant’s wrongful conduct, Plaintiff has suffered, and continues to suffer, damages include: front pay, back pay, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, and other damages. 


The complaint seeks judgment against the school awarding compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, costs of suit, pre- and post-judgment interest, and all other relief that the Court deems equitable and just.


The complaint demands trial by jury as to all issues.


The school has 35 days to answer the complaint.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What school is this?