Monday, April 24, 2017

School district settles food service manager's discrimination claim by providing neutral job reference.

I've only recently learned that complaints filed with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (NJDCR) are public records and I'm trying to get a sense of how this process works and what type of results it yields.  For those interested in this process, I've obtained the complaint, settlement agreement and other records from the case of Shawn Rembelinsky v. the Washington Township (Gloucester County) Public Schools and have summarized them below.

Rembelinsky filed her undated NJDCR complaint in 2015.  She alleged that she was a food service manager hired by the school district in 2011 and that she advised Business Administrator Peggy Meehan of an unspecified disability in January 2015.  Meehan reportedly responded by placing Rembelinsky on a "performance improvement plan" and Rembelinsky countered by presenting Meehan with an April 30, 2015 doctor's note seeking a disability leave from May 5, 2015 through June 5, 2015. 

Rembelinsky said that she was notified on May 4, 2015 that she was being terminated effective June 30, 2015.  She claimed that she was discriminated against because the school district "could have provided her with the reasonable accommodation of holding her position during her thirty day leave, without incurring any undue hardship on its operations." 

The matter settled in February 2016.  The school district agreed "that it will only acknowledge [Rembelinsky'] date of hire, job classification, last day of work, and salary to any prospective employer. The [school district] also agrees to release only neutral references regarding [Rembelinsky's] work history with [the school district], and no mention will be made about [Rembelinsky's] eligibility for rehire to any prospective employer."  The school district gave no other concessions, such as rehiring Rembelinsky or providing her with monetary relief.