School Board of Brevard Co. – Handicap Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Unlawful Employment, Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), Florida Civil Rights Act.

School Board of Brevard Co. – Handicap Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Unlawful Employment, Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), Florida Civil Rights Act.

Handicap discriminationIN THE CIRCUIT COURT
OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

ROXANN WALTERS,

Plaintiff,

v. Case No.

SCHOOL BOARD OF BREVARD COUNTY,

Defendant.

__________________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff, Roxann Walters, by and through her undersigned attorney, sues Defendant, School Board of Brevard County, and alleges the following:
1. This action is brought to obtain relief for discrimination committed by Defendant against Plaintiff on the basis of Plaintiff’s disability and handicap, and for retaliation by Defendant against Plaintiff for making a complaint of discrimination pursuant to Chapter 760, Florida Statutes.
2. This is an action for damages in excess of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00), exclusive of interest, costs and attorney fees.
3. The unlawful employment practices alleged below were committed within Brevard County, Florida.
4. Plaintiff resided in Brevard County, Florida at all times material hereto.
5. Defendant, School Board of Brevard County is located in Brevard County, Florida and at the time of the acts complained of herein, employed 15 or more persons.
6. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant, School Board of Brevard County, on or about 1986 and is currently employed by Defendant.
7. At all times, Plaintiff performed all duties assigned to her in a professionally competent manner, faithfully followed all reasonable instructions given to her by her supervisors, and abided by all the rules and regulations of Defendant.
8. Plaintiff has suffered severe mental anguish and emotional distress as a result of Defendant’s actions.
9. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorneys and agreed to pay them a reasonable fee.
10. Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.
11. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.

COUNT I – HANDICAP DISCRIMINATION
12. This is an action for damages brought pursuant to the Florida Civil Rights Act, Chapter 760, Florida Statutes, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against any individual with respect to their compensation terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of such individual’s handicap.
13. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 11 of this Amended Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
14. On or about August 7, 2003, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Handicap Discrimination on or with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. More than one hundred eighty (180) days have expired since the filing of said complaint and the Florida Commission on Human Relations has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s charge. A copy is attached as Exhibit “A” and incorporated herein.
15. On or about March 12, 2004, Plaintiff filed a claim with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, (attached hereto as Exhibit “B”), alleging additional handicap discrimination by Defendant against Plaintiff. More than one hundred eighty (180) days have passed since the filing of said complaint, and the Florida Commission on Human Relations has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s claim.
16. In March 2000, Plaintiff received a kidney and pancreas transplant.
17. Plaintiff returned to her job as a teacher in the fall of 2000 and upon her return, the principal at the school she taught at continuously pressured her to take a disability retirement.
18. In the fall of 2002, the principal instructed Plaintiff to meet with a School Board Official to review computations regarding her potential disability retirement benefits.
19. In the spring of 2003, the principal instructed Plaintiff to contact the Retirement Benefits Supervisor for the School Board to obtain a Florida Retirement System Physician’s report form for her doctor to fill out.
20. Plaintiff did not want to receive a disability retirement but because she was instructed to do so, she complied with her supervisor’s instructions to meet with the School Board Officials and her doctor.
21. According to Plaintiff’s physician, she did not qualify for disability retirement.
22. After Plaintiff’s kidney and pancreas transplant, Plaintiff suffered a broken foot and requested leave time to recover, but the school principal denied Plaintiff leave time to recover from her broken foot.
23. The school principal also told another teacher at the school to take disability retirement after that teacher had taken time off to have surgery and had fully recovered from the surgery.
24. Since Plaintiff returned to work after her transplant. Plaintiff was told by the school principal that her work was unsatisfactory. Prior to the transplant, Plaintiff’s work was not criticized by the principal.
25. Since Plaintiff returned to work after her transplant she has been reprimanded numerous times without basis by the principal.
26. On or about March 25, 2003, Plaintiff received a 90-day Performance Probation Notification. Prior to receiving the notification the principal informed Plaintiff that she would be placed on probation and if she did not take disability retirement prior to the end of the 90-day probationary period, she would be terminated.
27. In the spring of 2003, the principal also informed Plaintiff that he would pull her evaluation, from February 2002, in which she obtained an overall satisfactory performance appraisal and change it to unsatisfactory.
28. In May 2003, Plaintiff received an interim performance appraisal with an overall unsatisfactory evaluation.
29. In spite of her disability/handicap, Plaintiff was able to perform all of the essential functions of her position with Defendant, with or without accommodation.
30. Plaintiff had: (a) one or more disabilities or handicaps, i.e. a physical or mental impairment that substantially limited one or more of the major life activities of Plaintiff; (b) a record of such an impairment; or (c) was regarded as having such an impairment.
31. The Defendant, School Board of Brevard County, discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of her disability and engaged in a discriminatory practice with malice and reckless indifference to the statutorily protected rights of Plaintiff.
32. Proximately and directly as a result of Defendant discriminating against Plaintiff on account of her disability, Plaintiff has suffered damages which include severe emotional distress.
33. The conduct of Defendant, School Board of Brevard County, complained of herein was willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton and in complete disregard of the rights of Plaintiff.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. An order prohibiting the discriminatory practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects of the practice including removing all discriminatory reprimands from Plaintiff’s permanent record with Defendant.
B. Compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary loss.
C. An award of reasonable attorney fees and all costs incurred herein.
D. Such other damages and relief as may be just and proper.
COUNT II RETALIATION
34. This is an action for damages for violation of Chapter 760, Florida Statues, the Florida Civil Rights Act.
35. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 11 and 14 through 29 of this Amended Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
36. Subsequent to filing charges of handicap discrimination against Defendant on or about August 7, 2003 and because Plaintiff filed those charges of handicap discrimination, Plaintiff has been disciplined by Defendant without basis on numerous occasions.
37. On March 12, 2004, Plaintiff filed a claim with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, (attached hereto as Exhibit “B”), alleging retaliation by Defendant against Plaintiff for her filing handicap discrimination charges against it, by issuing to Plaintiff numerous baseless and unwarranted reprimands. More than one hundred eighty (180) days have passed since the filing of said complaint, and the Florida Commission on Human Relations has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s claim.
38. Plaintiff was also placed on a Professional Development Assistance Plan. As part of the Professional Development Assistance Plan, Plaintiff was observed weekly and was required to attend weekly conferences with the Principal and/or Assistant Principal and a weekly conference summary was also placed in Plaintiff’s personnel file. Plaintiff was also assigned to two mentor teachers to evaluate her, one mentor teacher evaluated Plaintiff four (4) days a week for thirty (30) minutes.
39. While on the Performance Improvement Plan, Plaintiff was given specific instructions on how to perform her job by the Principal, Assistant Principal and the mentor teachers. Many times when Plaintiff followed the Principal’s directions or the mentor teacher’s directions, she was informed by the Principal or Assistant Principal in the weekly conference summary, that she was not doing things properly. On numerous occasions Plaintiff followed the Principal’s instruction only to have him criticize her performance in the classroom when she was actually following the previous instructions that he or a mentor teacher had given her.
40. Since Plaintiff made complaint of discrimination she has received additional baseless reprimands.
41. Since Plaintiff made complaints of discrimination she was also required to utilize the Employee Assistance Program.
42. After Plaintiff made complaints of discrimination she could no longer eat lunch sitting with the children in her class. Other teachers could sit in the cafeteria and eat with the children in their class or have a thirty (30) minute duty free lunch. Plaintiff no longer had a scheduled lunch time and had to stand to eat her lunch, while the children in her class were seated in the cafeteria.
43. Defendant’s actions constitute a violation of Section 760.10 Florida Statutes, which makes it unlawful for an employer to “discriminate against any person because that person has opposed any practice which is an unlawful employment practice or because that person has made a charge of discrimination pursuant to Section 760.10, Florida Statutes.
44. As a result of retaliation perpetrated by Defendant against Plaintiff for filing charges of handicap discrimination, Plaintiff has sustained emotional damages in the form of mental anguish and loss of dignity.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. An order prohibiting the discriminatory practice and providing affirmative relief from the effects of the practice including removing all discriminatory reprimands from Plaintiff’s permanent record with Defendant.
B. Compensatory damages, including, but not limited to, damages for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses.
C. An award for reasonable attorney fees and all costs incurred herein.
D. Such other damages and relief as may be just and proper.
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.

Dated this _____ day of September, 2004
ALLEN & TRENT, P.A.
________________________
Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 110025
Adrienne E. Trent, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0060119
Daniel A. Perez, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 426903
Attorneys for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road, Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (321) 254-7550
Fax: (321) 242-1681

Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Closed
Date Filed: 09/22/2004

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