Decatur Township Schools Named In Age Discrimination Lawsuit
Former Bus Driver, Police Officer File Federal Lawsuits
7:02 AM, May 17, 2012
Two former employees of the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township have filed federal lawsuits alleging they were discriminated against because of their age.Bus driver Teresa Surber, 56, alleges she went on medical leave for a hysterectomy in the spring of 2011 and when she returned, MSD of Decatur Township did not renew her contract.Surber had worked with MSD of Decatur Township for 25 years, RTV6's Kara Kenney reported.In the lawsuit filed May 11, Surber alleged the district kept younger, less qualified bus drivers.Former school police officer Keith Jones, 62, also filed a lawsuit on May 14 against MSD of Decatur Township.Jones filed an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after he was terminated in 2010.Jones lawsuit states the schools former Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Baer, retaliated against him by coming out of retirement to write a letter in Jones file calling him a bad employee.That was wrong, said Ken Roberts, Jones attorney. Its important because Jones was an elderly employee and elderly employees should have the same rights as everyone else. You should not discriminate on the basis of age. And once someone makes a charge of discrimination you cant come back and retaliate against the person.Roberts said Jones had no previous write ups, and an otherwise clean employee record.On behalf of the school district, attorney Karen Sharp told RTV6 there is no evidence Jones firing and failure to rehire him was because of his age.Mr. Jones, the Plaintiff in this lawsuit, previously filed two charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against MSD of Decatur Township, both of which have been dismissed as lacking evidence of any violation of the civil rights laws. The school agrees with the assessment of the EEOC that the Plaintiffs claims are meritless and will defend the lawsuit on that basis, Sharp said in a statement.Yes, it was dismissed for us to go to court, at our request, said Roberts.Roberts said his client is owed for wages, bonuses, pension and other lost benefits.We can get millions, and thats what were after in this case, from the school district and from the lawyers, Roberts said.Roberts said Keith Jones' lawsuit has implications for every employer in Central Indiana.You better make sure you understand the laws about discrimination and retaliation in general, and preach that to your staff, Roberts said.Decatur Township school officials and their attorneys did not respond to requests for comment on Surbers lawsuit.Surber is seeking lost pay, benefits, damages and attorneys fees.She had also filed an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC, which was dismissed on Feb.10.