Teacher’s Discrimination Suit Moves On To Trial

BERLIN — A federal judge made several rulings this week in a discrimination lawsuit filed in 2009 by a former Ocean City Elementary School (OCES) teacher against her former principal, vice principal and the superintendent of schools.

Last July, teacher Lindsay Greenan filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Worcester County Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes, OCES Principal Irene Kordick and Vice Principal Karen Marx alleging racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and other factors that led to her contract being renewed for her third year of teaching at the West Ocean City school. Throughout the 16-page complaint, Greenan outlines a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that allegedly began in 2007 for not heeding her principal’s alleged warning not to get pregnant during her first year at the school.

In October 2010, the defendants filed motions to dismiss the case on several grounds, citing a lack of evidence suggesting any discrimination or retaliation.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg issued an opinion on the defendants’ motions to dismiss the case. In short, the judge’s opinion allows the case to move forward to trial, although some of the claims, including the administration’s alleged retaliation against Greenan for filing an appeal for her dismissal, were denied.

In addition, Andes was dismissed as a defendant in the case after the complaint failed to prove to the judge’s satisfaction the superintendent was aware of, or approved of the alleged pattern of discrimination or harassment against Greenan leading up to her dismissal.

Greenan’s attorney Robin Cockey said this week the judge’s ruling allow the case to move forward, abeit in a slightly different form in which it was first filed. Cockey said the salient points in the complaint were confirmed in the judge’s opinion despite, for example, the dismissal of Andes as a defendant.

“We’re delighted with the opinion,” he said. “The judge has advanced this matter and the case is going forward. We’re looking forward to proceeding to trial.”

The judge’s ruling on the motion to dismiss issued on Tuesday upholds the timeliness of the complaint and the apparent validity of the pregnancy discrimination, pregnancy harassment and race discrimination spelled out in the complaint.

As to the pregnancy discrimination count, the judge opined “The Court finds these allegations sufficient to infer that hostility stemming from Greenan’s pregnancy persisted until, and was a contributing factor in, Kordick’s decision to recommend that Greenan’s contract not be renewed.”