Edward Smith, Kristen Benson and Anthony Brighton Join Forces and Secure Dismissal of Multiple-Plaintiff Employment Discrimination Case

Smith Sovik attorneys Kristen Benson, Edward Smith, and Anthony Brighton successfully obtained summary judgment in an employment discrimination suit brought by three teachers against a school district, its board of education, and numerous individual defendants. The entry of summary judgment followed extensive litigation and discovery regarding a complaint originally filed in 2007, as the three plaintiffs made sweeping allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, hostile work environment, and retaliation allegedly flowing from two incidents of unflattering remarks made by another teacher. The plaintiffs conducted over thirty depositions in an effort to support their allegations that the remarks were condoned or ratified by the school district, even though the school district reprimanded the teacher for her remarks and provided the plaintiffs with the written reprimand that had been placed in the personnel file of the involved teacher. After the extensive discovery and numerous procedural manipulations attempted by plaintiffs that included failed effort to amend the complaint and a subsequent failed effort to file a separate complaint asserting the same claims as the first, the summary judgment motion filed by defendants was finally heard and decided entirely in favor of the defendants. The lengthy summary judgment argument rebutted the multiple claims regarding alleged incidents of discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment and successfully made the case that the litany of incidents alleged by plaintiffs were all trivial or unrelated to any discriminatory motivation. Defendants demonstrated that the claims stemmed from their dissatisfaction with the discipline given to the teacher who made the offending comments, and defendants then successfully argued that their dissatisfaction with the disciplinary measures is not actionable and is not evidence the school district adopted or condoned the remarks. Supreme Court issued a thirty-nine page decision which addressed the multiple claims of plaintiffs and agreed with the defense arguments on each issue, including the lack of evidence of adverse employment actions related to claimed discrimination or retaliation and the lack of evidence of any pervasive hostile work atmosphere.