June 21, 2012

June 21, 2012
Teacher With HIV Sues California
School for Wrongful Termination

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Now over the years, there has been a ton of discrimination against people living with HIV in the workplace. Well, we have one more case to add to the huge pile.

Bisnar | Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, LLP (http://www.BestAttorney.com) of Orange County, California today announced the firm’s employment attorneys have filed a lawsuit (case number: 30-2012 00565920) against The Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, California for discrimination against a teacher afflicted with the HIV virus.

The lawsuit charges The Pegasus School with multiple infractions, including workplace discrimination due to sexual orientation, medical condition and physical disability; creating and/or knowingly permitting harassment and a hostile work environment; breach of contract; wrongful termination; and violations of business and professions codes.

Middle School Science Teacher Harassed, Verbally Abused Due to HIV Disease, according to attorney Brian Chase.

Matthew Edmondson, a beloved middle school science teacher who had worked at The Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, California for four years before leaving to teach in Texas, was asked to return to the school to teach 8th grade science in the spring of 2007.

Past administrators and staff were aware Matthew was a homosexual male who was infected with the HIV virus, with no reported incidents of workplace harassment or abuse.

In October 2011, Matthew's doctor changed his medication which caused adverse side effects. Despite these adverse side effects, Matthew never used more than his allotted personal time off (or more than 10 days) during the 2011 - 2012 school year. In fact, throughout his tenure from 2002 on, he rarely used personal time off.

On numerous occasions, Matthew communicated the side effects of his new medication to recently appointed Head of School, John Zurn and Joseph Williamson, the middle school director.

According to court documents both Zurn and Williamson waged a discrimination campaign against Matthew starting in February 2012, including a series of randomly scheduled meetings under the guise of discussing Matthew’s curriculum plans for the coming year even though no other Pegasus teachers were asked to meet to discuss their curriculum plans. It was during these meetings that Zurn and Williamson demanded to know Matthew’s reasons for personal time off while criticizing his teaching methods for the first time in his career, despite Matthew’s glowing 9-year teaching evaluations.

Matthew unsuccessfully attempted to record one of the randomly scheduled meetings in an effort to document the harassment to which he was subjected. Upon learning of this, Zurn and Williamson demanded that Matthew sign a Confidential Agreement and Release on March 21 or they would contact the District Attorney's office and have him arrested and prosecuted.

Under duress, Matthew signed the agreement two days later and left the school.

Bisnar | Chase Sues The Pegasus School for Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

“This is a textbook case of workplace discrimination,” said Brian Chase, partner at Bisnar | Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, LLP. “What’s tragic is that this is a respected teacher, friend and colleague who has spent his entire professional career educating children and helping others. Simply put, Matthew was forced out of his job due to egregious verbal abuse, derogatory comments, insults and threats of criminal prosecution for no other reasons than his sexual orientation and medical condition.”

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, general damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering, restitution for lost employment benefits, a preliminary and permanent injunction requiring The Pegasus School to cease and desist unlawful business practices, and for related court costs.

Personally, I hope she wins and the lawyers make a huge example of this kind of discrimination. Sad to think this is still happening in 2012!

Hope you have a great Thursday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab