A hearing was scheduled to address a lawsuit between a suspended Limestone County Schools (LCS) administrator and the Limestone County Board of Education (LCBOE) in Alabama. The hearing, however, was canceled once the court received notification that the parties had come to an agreement through successful mediation.
Details of the Case
The employee involved in the case had the role of Executive Director of Human Resources for LCS and in late January, was placed on paid administrative leave. The Limestone County school board did this to conduct an internal investigation into his employment on a basis that was never revealed to the employee. When the employee asked, and then subsequently had an attorney determine the reason for his administrative leave, the board denied offering any information.
The employee then filed suit against the LSC Interim Superintendent, LCBOE Chairman, and other unnamed defendants. The employee claimed he was negatively and irreparably affected by the board’s decision to put him on paid leave. The employee also claimed that other employees took various actions against him which he alleged were influenced by the board and part of a retaliation and coverup by LCBOE.
Members of the school board unanimously approved a mediation settlement and resignation of the employee in May. He will remain on administrative leave until then. In this case, a mediation not only saved time and money for both parties avoiding a lawsuit, it also helps keep the focus on the children directly served by the school board so they can continue to receive the support they deserve.
Once declaring mediation successful, the parties were instructed by a Montgomery County Circuit Judge to file a joint motion for dismissal as soon as possible. With receipt of this motion, no further hearings would be set.
Company Policies and Culture
Employers maintain the difficult task of cultivating appropriate policies and company cultures that exclude behavior that could seem discriminatory or that encourage retaliation. The LCS employee alleged that he was not only placed on administrative leave without a reason, but that he was treated unfairly by other employees in the process. The board maintained that he wasn’t placed on leave for punitive reasons but they never responded to the employees requests for an explanation as to why he was placed on leave in the first place.
Reminder for Employers
Oftentimes we share stories about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stepping in to handle discrimination lawsuits where the employer is ruled at fault and they owe damages to the employee while also remaining actively accountable to the EEOC through trainings and ongoing correspondence. Those are costly procedures that take time and money and the details of the suits typically become public knowledge establishing the possibility of the employer having a PR correction to make.
A helpful reminder to employees here is that if mediation is an option, using it is in the best interest of everyone involved. Mediation takes a more collaborative approach for each party to advocate for what they want from the agreement. Negotiation is required which means each party will walk away with something they want, but also perhaps having forfeited something. Companies often are unable to satisfy mediations and so the issue goes to court where they no longer have any agency to determine the outcome. Mediation provides a less time consuming, less stressful, and less expensive path toward resolution.
If you lost your job to reasons you believe are unfair or illegal, let us to share some tips with you that may be able to help. No one should feel mistreated or discriminated against, especially in their place of employment. Review our strategies for handling workplace discrimination.