Lake Ridge Academy, a private K-12 school in North Ridgeville, has been hit with two lawsuits claiming it fired James Whiteman, head of the elementary school, for inquiring about the differences between female and male teachers’ pay. The EEOC filed a separate lawsuit on Whiteman’s behalf.
In December 2005, Whiteman e-mailed the headmaster of the school saying some teachers suspected “there may be inequity in the way pay shakes out.” In January, he was told his contract would not be renewed for the following year. The school contends Whiteman’s position was eliminated as part of a work force reduction.
Lake Ridge may come to regret its timing. One of the most common indicators cited by courts when determining retaliation is how closely the adverse employment action—in this case, firing—followed on the heels of a protected act.
Final note: The National Labor Relations Board—which has authority over employers even in nonunion settings—says it’s an unfair labor practice to forbid employees to discuss wages and other working conditions.
- Take every suit seriously--even those in which employee is acting as her own lawyer
- What could get in the way of a settlement that prevents all possible future claims?
- Run handbook by counsel to make sure it doesn't destroy at-Will status
- Worker's heat-related death leads to OSHA fine
- Track shift assignments to ensure fairness to all