Norfolk Public Schools recently agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit with a former employee for $72,000.
The Norfolk Public Schools district recently agreed to pay $72,000 to avoid a discrimination lawsuit. The suit was filed against the district by Donna Lackas, a former district employee who was terminated from her position back January 9. As part of the settlement, Lackas will receive $50,000 for compensatory damages, “as well as consideration for a confidentiality agreement for Lackas and her husband, Scott,” according to court documents. Her team of attorneys will receive $12,500 to cover fees and other court costs.
What happened, though? What prompted Lackas to file the lawsuit in the first place? So far details of the lawsuit are being kept confidential, as per the settlement agreement. What is known is that she filed a lawsuit against the school district back on November 8, 2018 over allegations “about the employment relationship related to the Nebraska Fair Employment Practices Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” Both these laws are designed to shield employees from discrimination “related to sex, race, color, national origin and religion.”
As part of the settlement, Lackas will not only dismiss the suit, she will keep the details of the suit under wraps. In addition, Lackas agreed not to apply for employment with the district “and the district will not disclose to any third party that she was terminated from her position and keep her personnel file confidential.” When commenting on the settlement, both Lackas and her husband issued the following statement, “we had a difference of opinion and went our separate ways. We have since mutually resolved the dispute between us.” If by chance the couple breaches the agreement, Lackas and her husband may have to “pay the district $500 for each disclosure.”
How has the school district responded? So far Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, the superintendent of the school district denies all liability. She added that the only reason the district agreed to settle was to avoid the high cost of litigation. She said:
“The district chose to settle this matter as a more prudent use of taxpayer dollars than continuing its defense in the legal process.”
The settlement itself was approved back on July 8 during a district meeting. Thompson said the “settlement was a confidential personnel issue and more information would be disclosed” at the August meeting. During the next meeting, Thompson added:
“Nebraska law requires the district to maintain a public record of all settled claims and this agenda item is intended to satisfy that requirement. A former employee filed a claim against the district. The district agreed to settle that claim in exchange for the former employee’s agreement to release the district against all liability related to her claim.”