The Oriskany Central School District was recently ordered to pay a former principal $484,456.
A federal court recently ordered the Oriskany Central School District, former superintendent, and its school board to fork over $484,456 to a principal who was terminated back in 2016. The principal was Lisa Krause. She was the first female principal for the Junior/Senior High School.
In February 2017, Krause filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) over allegations that she was “treated unfairly by then-Superintendent Greg Kelehan because of her gender and fired by the board, at Kelehan’s recommendation, after she told the board about Kelehan’s behavior.”
When commenting on the lawsuit, Robert Strum, the attorney representing Krause, said:
“This verdict is significant, not only to compensate Ms. Krause for what she went through but also to let school districts and other employers know that there are consequences to their creation of hostile work environments and inaction to address discrimination…Possibly more significant, however, is the message to the young girls in the district and elsewhere that society will not tolerate discrimination.”
The lawsuit went before the United States District Court North District of New York and the jury eventually awarded her “$334,456 for lost income and another $150,000 for pain, suffering, and other intangible harm.”
Shortly after the ruling, the school district issued the following statement:
“The Oriskany CSD disagrees with the verdict reached by the jury in the case of Krause v. Oriskany. We are examining our options for appeal. The district steadfastly contends that it committed no act of discrimination or retaliation. The Board of Education will review the matter to determine further steps.”
What happened, though? Well, according to the lawsuit, Krause detailed a pattern of “behavior by Kelehan that included excessive scrutiny, constant criticism, and bullying, creating a hostile work environment to which her male predecessors and co-workers were not subjected.” When Krause reported the unacceptable behavior to the board, Kelehan “recommended that the board fire her, which it did in October 2016,” according to the suit.
In response to the allegations, the district denied the allegations and issued the following statement on May 5, 2017:
“Ms. Krause was an ineffective employee who was provided with several opportunities to remediate her weaknesses before the decision to terminate her employment.”
The district further stated that, shortly after Krause was hired in December 2014, “her lack of a command presence and weak communication skills became apparent.” Attorneys for the district said that “any criticism from Kelehan was related to poor job performance, not gender bias.” They also alleged that “Krause never reported her concerns through established district procedures, suggesting that the charge of gender discrimination only arose after she was fired.”