MAINE TRACK COACH SUES HAMPDEN SCHOOL FOR AGE DISCRIMINATION
Regional School Unit 22 has stumbled out of the blocks after Coach Kathryn King alleged the school refused to hire her as a track coach because of her age. As a result, the fifty-seven (57) year old King will end her tenure with the school at the end of the school year to attend the University of Maine School of Law in the fall.
This isn’t the first time the King family has been on the receiving end of the schools discriminatory practices. Previously, Kathryn’s husband, David King, seventy-one (71) , alleged he was wrongfully terminated form his position as a social studies teacher. David and the district negotiated a settlement of $165,000 which allowed King to stay on as the schools track coach with a $6,000 a year stipend.
Kathryn’s complaint alleged she was passed over for the coaching position in retaliation for her opposition to the districts continued practice of age discrimination. The district engaged in a pattern of giving Kathryn unfavorable evaluations, evaluations the district would later use to deny her any merit based pay increases. This pattern of unfavorable evaluations began when she first opposed the district’s discriminatory practices, dating back to April 2013.
Following her husband’s retirement, Kathryn applied to replace him. Kathryn has over thirty years of experience coaching indoor and outdoor track, including years serving as an assistant coach to her husband. Because of her qualifications her relationship to the students, and her dedication , Kathryn was a perfect candidate for the position. The school’s Athletic Director, Michael Bisson, told Kathryn she would be a good fit for the position. Understandably, it came as a surprise that she wasn’t even considered for the job. Kathryn later read her resignation letter to the school board during a public meeting. During the hearing, Kathryn explained how she couldn’t live with the question of whether the superintendent would abort her teaching career as he had aborted her coaching career. She would go on to detail the heavy anxiety she felt as a result of how she was being treated at school. Sleepless nights, lost appetite and an unexplainable sickness became the norm for Kathryn whenever she thought about school.
Age discrimination occurs when an employer bases an employment decision the employee’s age. Further, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee because she opposed the employers unlawful practices. While hard to prove, the Courts often look at patterns of inexplicable unfairness when it is accompanied by severe treatment. Here, Kathryn was suffered the adverse employment decision of denied a job opportunity and was ultimately forced to resign in retaliation for her opposition of the companies discriminatory practices. It is clear that Kathryn has been the victim of a pattern of inexplicable unfairness and severe treatment, when as far back as 2013 she routinely received unfavorable evaluations, causing her to be denied the merit based pay increases that other employees enjoyed.
The feeling of an ever present pendulum swinging above one’s head every time they enter the workplace is harmful, not only to the individuals themselves, but to a fair and free democracy. Age discrimination laws are designed to combat the discriminatory practices which led to this type of work anxiety. Our skilled attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience handling age discrimination cases. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to protect the rights of every employee, regardless of their age. If you feel you have been discriminated against based on your age, give us a call, toll-free, at 877-469-5297 for a free consultation about your possible claim.