Jury Awards Teacher $1.1 Million Over Forced ResignationFiled under Employment Law
After a four-day trial in federal court, an eight person jury ruled that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina violated a school teacher’s rights when they coerced his resignation. The jury awarded the school teacher approximately $1.1 million dollars.
The case arose from an incident in which the teacher, Jeffrey Leardini, was accused of improperly touching female students. The school district, without conducting any type of informed investigation, told Leardini he could resign immediately in lieu of dismissal. He was further told that an investigation, should he choose to have one, would likely lead to his termination.
Subsequently, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police conducted an investigation and brought crimnal charges against Leardini. A jury, however, acquitted him of all criminal charges. After clearing his name in the criminal case, Leardini filed a civil lawsuit alleging the school district violated his due process rights when it misled him into believing that an investigation would lead to his termination, essentially amounting to a coerced resignation.
Commenting on this case, Paul Padda Law, PLLC partner Ruth Cohen commented that employers need to be mindful of public employees’ rights to due process. “Being falsely accused is bad enough, but then to be misled by your employer regarding your rights i equally offensive” stated Ruth Cohen. “The jury sent a loud message,” noted Ruth Cohen, “that violating an employees constitutional right to due process will carry a price tag.”
Paul Padda Law, PLLC routinely represents public employees facing discipline and employment discrimination.