Municipalities and government organizations, like school districts, often face litigation. After all, many see these government entities as institutions with unlimited resources, and as such, think that they can get a big payday by suing them. Unfortunately, being sued by outside parties is just one common litigation municipalities and government organizations must deal with, and as one Alaska school district is learning first hand, they also face employee employment law litigation.
The employment lawsuit
In this employment lawsuit, a former teacher from the village of Nuiqsut’s Trapper School is suing her former employer, the North Slope Borough School District. The teacher is claiming that NSBSD did not appropriately address student racist actions.
The Black female teacher claims that, in 2017, Trapper School students made racist threats in her classroom and created racist graffiti in the school building. In another alleged incident, a student created a noose for the teacher. However, the lawsuit claims that the principal allegedly did not address these issues, even though she was the only Black resident of Nuiqsut and these were the school’s first racist incidents.
As a result of these incidents, the lawsuit claims that the teacher feared for her safety, and she filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Now that the EEOC has given permission to proceed, she is now suing for unlawful employment practices under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.) and the Alaska Human Rights Act (AS § 18.80.220). These laws protect individuals against discrimination on the basis of race.
Options for the city
Alaska municipalities face employment litigation based on a variety causes, discrimination or otherwise. However, while many cities have in-house attorneys, not all do, and even those that do, cannot not be subject matter experts on all possible cases. And, even during litigation, they must still carry out the business of the city. This is why it is so important for municipalities facing employment law litigation to seek outside municipal representation. A dedicated attorney can be a cost effective way to ensure that the city is protected from frivolous litigation, and it can save resources best utilized for their citizens.