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New Jersey school sued for harassment, wrongful termination

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: It is not acceptable for your employer to turn a blind eye when you are being sexually harassed at work — even if the people doing the sexual harassment are other workers, customers or (in this case) a bunch of middle-school students.

A 36-year-old female teacher at a charter school in Paterson, New Jersey, says that she was the subject of outrageous acts of sexual harassment by her students. When she complained to management, not only didn’t she receive any help — she was discriminated against. Although she wasn’t fired, the teacher’s contract was not renewed — which she claims was partially because of her complaints and partially because of her race.

During the 2018-2019 school year, the middle-school teacher was repeatedly harassed by a number of students in her classroom. Some of the actions alleged in her complaint include:

  • Students announcing loudly in class that they were sexually aroused
  • Male students putting their hands in their pants and then making comments to each other about the teacher’s behind and laughing
  • Students approaching her with sexually suggestive comments and questions
  • Students taking videos of her buttocks and then sharing the videos on Snapchat
  • Male students approaching her from behind and making sexually inappropriate “thrusting motions” to intimidate or humiliate her

In addition to the sexual harassment she endured, the former teacher alleges that the charter schools chief executive officer, who is African-American, was actively looking to replace white teachers.

The school denies the allegations and says that they support an environment that is free of harassment — sexual or otherwise.

Cases like this are unfortunate. It can be difficult for an employee to prove that a contract was not renewed because of retaliation or racial bias — but it isn’t impossible. The totality of the circumstances has to be taken into consideration. If you believe that you were retaliated against at work or wrongfully dismissed, talk to an experienced attorney today.

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