Sunday, July 13, 2008

GRAPHIC COMMUNICATION ARTS HS TEACHERS SUING FOR AGE DISCRIMINATION WILL FINALLY GET THEIR DAY IN COURT

Back in 2005 forty-five teachers filed a complaint with the EEOC that the DOE had discriminated against them because they were over 40 years old. The Daily News reported the filing and Randi Weingarten announced at the time that "88% of teachers brought up on disciplinary charges in the last three years were over 40."

A lawsuit involving 12 of the teachers, filed in 2006, is finally coming to trial. While some of the claims have been dismissed on technical grounds the 12 teachers have won significant gains.

In Shapiro v. NYC DOE, 06 Civ. 1836, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 46327, Judge Jed Rakoff found that during the 2004-2005 school year, five teachers were transferred from Graphic Communication Arts and reassigned to another school. All were over age forty. In June 2005, sixteen teachers at GCA were given unsatisfactory ratings ("U ratings") for the year. Of the 16, thirteen were over the age of 40. A year later, in June 2006, eight teachers received U ratings, only one of whom was under age forty.

One of the teachers given a U rating in 2005 was plaintiff Diana Friedline, who was 53 years old at the time. Friedline has a New York State teaching license in commercial art and a New York City teaching license in cold type composition. She had been a full time teacher since 1989. In the Spring of 2005, Friedline applied for a curriculum writing position at GCA. The principal told Friedline that Friedline was not eligible for the position because she was certified with the wrong license. Friedline filed a grievance objecting to her non-selection for the position, which was denied. Friedline also applied to have a substitute vocational assistant student teacher placed in her classroom; but this application was also denied. When Friedline complained to the principal that these actions were prompted by age discrimination, he told her that he preferred to hire younger candidates. In June 2005, Friedline was giving a U rating for the year.

One of the teachers given a U rating in both years was plaintiff Josefina Cruz, who was 58 years old in June 2005. She has been a teacher of Spanish at GCA since 2003. In the Spring of 2005, she received 24 classroom visits in a two-month period, which she testified was well above the norm. Her schedule was changed seven times in two weeks. She was then given a U rating for the year. In January, 2006, Cruz failed to administer the oral portion of the Spanish regents exam because she had not been given exam materials, which were kept in a vault to which she had no access. She was then given a U rating for the 2005 year, served with disciplinary charges, and reassigned to the Manhattan rubber room.

Another teacher who was given a U rating in 2005 was plaintiff Anthony Ferraro, who was then 72 years old. He began teaching at GCA in 1985. In May, 2003, the principal requested that teachers planning to retire contact him to let him know of their plans. Ferraro contacted the principal but then changed his mind and decided not to retire. When Ferraro told the principal of his change in plans, the principal asked Ferraro's age and then expressed "extreme dismay" that Ferraro was planning to say on at the school In December, 2004, Assistant Principal Johnson repeatedly chided Ferraro for continuing to work and reminded Ferraro that Ferraro could be doing other things with his life, such as spending time with his wife and traveling. Similarly, Assistant Principal Seyfried told Ferrarro that he did not understand why Ferraro was still working and that Ferraro should have retired long ago. In June, 2003, the principal told Ferraro that Ferraro was doing a "deplorable job" coordinating the "LEARN" program, a work-study program through which Ferraro coordinated employment opportunities for GCA students in their chosen fields of study. The principal also told Ferraro that his teaching style was "outmoded" and "outdated."
In September, 2003, Ferraro was removed from his position as LEARN coordinator, but a year later he was reassigned to the position but given less time to perform the necessary work. In January 2005, Ferraro was removed from the position once again and replaced by a younger teacher who was not properly licensed to act as coordinator. Also, in September 2004, Ferraro, a licensed peer mentor, applied to serve as a mentor to new teachers, but the position was given to someone 20 years his junior who was not a certified mentor. Finally, on June 13, 2005, the principal told Ferraro his teaching style was "antiquated" and then days later, Ferraro received a U rating for the year.

Another plaintiff is Diana Hrisinko, who is currently 64 years old. She began teaching at GCA in 2002. Beginning in the fall of 2004, Resnick would come into her classroom unannounced, sometimes as often as five times per week. On February 1, 2005, Hrisinko was transferred from GCA and thereafter worked briefly as a substitute teacher before assuming a position at another school. She filed a grievance claiming that her transfer was illegal because younger teachers with less seniority remained in their positions at GCA.

Plaintiff Elaine Jackson is currently 69 years old and was the Assistant Principal for the English Department at GCA for one semester in the fall of 2003. During her one semester as Assistant Principal, Jackson increased the passing ratio of the English Regents exam. At no time did the principal tell her that he was dissatisfied with her performance. Nonetheless, she was fired in January 2005 and replaced with a younger male who lacked relevant experience for the position.

Plaintiff Midge Maroni, currently 61 years old, began teaching at GCA in 2002. She testified that in early 2003 she was "subjected to ageist comments and unjust criticism" as "Resnick [the principal] repeatedly made references to his desire to have a staff of young teachers." Resnick also said things such as "you don't take your profession seriously, you have old ideas." Maroni was subjected to frequent short, unannounced visits to her classroom from Assistant Principal Brand. During 2005, while Maroni was acting as advisor for the school newspaper, she complained to Resnick that her students lacked access to computers to produce the paper; the next year, a younger teacher received a computer to use for this purpose. In June, 2005, Maroni received a U rating for the year. The U was later dismissed in an arbitration proceeding.

Plaintiff Geraldine F. Whittington, currently 61 years old, began teaching at GCA in 1986. She has a state teaching license in Graphic Arts. Whittington testified that, beginning in 2004, Resnick criticized her for taking sick time to which she was entitled, threatened her with a U rating and treated her with hostility, refusing to address her or make eye contact. When Resnick visited her classroom, he glared at her in an obtrusive and hostile manner. In the spring of 2004, the computers and scanners in Whittington's classroom broke. Whittington heard that new computer equipment was given to younger teachers rather than to her (despite her seniority). Whittington retired effective July 1, 2004.

Plaintiff Fitzroy Kington, currently 58 years old, began teaching at GCA in 1992. During 2004-2005, Resnick repeatedly stood outside of Kington's classroom and shook his head disapprovingly. Assistant Principal Guttman told Kington that Resnick wanted younger, more energetic teachers on staff, and asked when Kington was leaving (even though Kington had not indicated that he had any plan to leave the school). During a social studies exhibition, Kington heard Resnick refer to "old, burnt out, tired teachers" who gave children detention and told them they were no good. In May 2005, Kington applied to transfer to another school.

Plaintiff Gloria Chavez, currently 59 years old, began teaching at GCA in 2002. During the 2004-2005 school year, Resnick began a pattern of yelling at Chavez and threatening disciplinary action against her. He also told her that she looked "tired," should start drinking caffeinated coffee and should modernize her teaching style. In 2006, Chavez did not administer the oral portion of the Spanish regents exam because she was never given the required materials by Assistant Principal Silverman Chavez was then served with disciplinary charges, given a U rating, and reassigned to the Manhattan Regional Operation Center.

Plaintiff Erica Weingast, currently 60 years old, became GCA's bilingual coordinator in 2001. In 2003-2004, Weingast was removed from an after-school assignment teaching English, and the position was given to a teacher who was 30 years younger than Weingast. Between 2003 and 2005, Weingast was "subjected to a campaign of harassment which entailed unwarranted criticisms of her management of [the] bi-lingual studies program." In June, 2004, Resnick began to scream at her in public and humiliate her at school. In June 2005, defendants told her to expect a U rating or resign; Weingast resigned.

Plaintiff Ismael Diaz, currently 64 years old, began teaching at GCA in 2003. During the fall of 2004, Silverman was "constantly" coming into Diaz's classroom, commenting on trivial matters and asking Diaz to attend to a bulletin board in the hallway. She also checked his lessons plans more than once a week. In May 2004, Resnick and Silverman observed one of Diaz's lessons and rated it "unsatisfactory". Resnick refused to speak to Diaz when Diaz said "Good Morning" in the halls. Diaz was given a U rating at the end of the 2004-2005 school year and decided to retire.

In order to prove an Age Discrimination in Employment Act case the teachers are required to show that they suffered an "adverse employment action." This has been defined as suffering a materially adverse change in the terms of employment. A teacher is not required to show a change in income or reduction of benefits. Thus teachers reassigned to the rubber room or receiving a "U" rating can show adverse employment actions, something the City has fought hard to prevent.

Judge Rakoff found that both "U" ratings and rubber room transfers can, if shown in the context of an Age Discrimination claim, be grounds for recovery.

The plaintiffs will have their day in Court to prove their claims before a jury in Manhattan Federal Court.

17 comments:

Unitymustgo! said...

Just guessing, but the Union has nothing to do with any of this? Meaning these teachers are either paying for this lawsuit themselves or receiving Pro-Bono representation from a good-hearted lawyer. I don't get why I pay dues? I truly don't understand what our dues are spent on?? Everything I think our union should be doing like paying for lawyers for teachers fighting unjust treatment, they just don't? I wish all these teachers good luck. If there is a way to donate to help their cause I would. Lastly, yeah I will be annoyed as heck when (hopefully) they win and our Union claims victory, like they did with that other guy you wrote about weeks ago that our union had the gall to parade at the DA. Is it just me? Am I crazy to be annoyed by these things?

Unitymustgo!

proofoflife said...

No, it's not just you. When I read about cases like these I also question where the #$%@&%* UFT is?? On more than one occasion I have thought it would be great to ask the UFT for a full refund of my dues!

Unitymustgo! said...

I so agree. I'm no expert on unions and laws governing unions, but why do we have to join? Don't get me wrong I recognize the value of a union. I am very pro-union in my views, but man do I feel like nothing would change for me at my school if I didn't belong to the UFT. UFT if your out there reading this I hope this acts as some kind of wake up call.

Unitymustgo!

Anonymous said...

Dear Unitymustgo:

I think many of us can relate to what you are saying. However, our comments here will have little to no effect on Unity. Yes they monitor the blogs, especially to control how they might be perceived by their gang at the DA.

They will only begin to listen and react when they see the opposition actively organizing against them. It's that simple, and yet it is extremely difficult work.

The movement to organize against them must happen now. If we hit a serious economic downturn, you can forget about the rank and file willing to step up and out to challenge Unity. Instead they will repeat the mantra, "God I'm lucky to have a job."

Let's get going people!!!

Anonymous said...

The chapter leader at the school is a long-term administrative suck up and stalwart Unity Caucus members know for removing opposition literature from teacher mailboxes.

Anonymous said...

oh...we have to go beyond mailboxes...

we have to go and do what Unity does not know how to do...

stay tuned

Anonymous said...

You will need a whole lot of money to organize the teachers.

Anonymous said...

By writing a strategy on this blog, Unity will see it immediately. Why don't you attend an ICE or TJC meeting and tell them your plan or start your own movement.

Ms. Tsouris said...

Why isn't the Union involved in such an important case? What's happening with our dues money? Is it going to support UFT/Unity charter schools and the accompanying propaganda mill? These teachers have all courageously gone forward with this important lawsuit, while Unity operatives more likely have been busy trying to get out press releases congratulating themselves. The CL should be hung out to dry for allowing these teachers to be subjected to the obvious discrimination and humiliation that prevails at GCA.

Anonymous said...

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, A BUREAUCRATIC SYSTEM has put into IN PLACE a procedure that CIRCUMVENTS THE union contract, education regulations and basic civil rights laws TO REMOVE ANY TEACHER. This “process” has so infiltrated OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM, THAT NOW OUR TEACHERS’ CAREERS, REPUTATIONS, HEALTH CARE AND PENSIONS ARE BEING ROUTINELY DESTROYED, and there is ABSOLUTELY NO RECOURSE TO THE LAW available to those teachers, because the union represents them, and they fail miserably to do this! In the process, wonderful teachers are humiliated in ways that are reminiscent of slavery.
TEACHERS WHO SPEAK OUT ABOUT UNSOUND EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE, the ‘whistle-blowers’, are the first to be singled out. Senior teachers, with strong voices are next to be targeted, particularly as their meager salary reaches longevity steps. They are followed by any teacher that is disliked by some petty, failed human being, often with poor credentials, but given power to ‘supervise’ teachers. “Staff-developers” whose job is to train and facilitate learning, often become tyrants who evaluate and demean teachers whose methods they fail to recognize, because they lack the rubric that recognizes the indicators for evaluation.
The personal agendas of administrators replace curricula; thus talented teachers find themselves on a one way journey to the ‘rubber room.” Those ‘business managers’ at the top -- principals and superintendents -- who call themselves “educators,” in an astonishing number of systems have as their HIGHEST PRIORITY TO MAINTAIN THEIR POSITON IN THE CASH-COW THAT BECOMES THEIR PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT. They are given tacit permission by a system that fails to protect teachers, and they stoop to tactics that are so egregious that people find it hard to believe. THAT IS THE PROBLEM! Ordinary people who believe in the law of the land are incredulous and say, “How can this be true?”
While the media focuses and points the finger only at those "bad teachers", the union mishandles tens of thousands of cases. The crucial point where the contract would prevent the abusive false allegations from being ‘Put-out’ as CHARGES- IS AT THE SITE, where the site UNION rep depends on the principal for everything: the student load, the duties, the materials, the program. Collusion with administration has become EPIDEMIC HERE, and grievance procedures are abandoned.

THE WAY IT WORKS:
IT IS SO SIMPLE! To bypass the grievance procedure MANDATED in a contract, the principal tells a parent to complain directly to the CHANCELLOR or superintendent, with one of several SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS.
• CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS A FAVORITE ,and teacher comments can be interpreted as threatening, and used to charge a teacher with corporal punishment. (Education law is clear that this in illegal.)
• Sexual abuse “ there has been a three –fold increase in these allegation interpreted by the ASSOCIATED PRESS release to mean that there is an increase of thirty percent in predation by teacher- now abusive to students, when in truth, this charge is just a ploy to remove a teacher, in most of the cases.
• Theft or misuse of funds: which is ironic, since it is administration that that often robs the school blind.
• Drug Abuse: any allegation can doom a teacher.

Once in a detention center, awaiting a hearing often three years down the road, a teacher is virtually a prisoner, and cannot go to the bathroom without permission. Imagine dedicating your life, educating yourself for years, spending money to make teaching possible in places where books and materials are scarce or non-existent, and ending up in this virtual prison, facing a kangaroo court years later, unable to defend yourself. Arbitration by people whose only objective is to get you to retire, will put the final nail in your career.

The result is that this system allows the brightest, most experienced and educated teachers to be locked up and subjected to humiliation that no minority segment of our population has experienced in decades. Educated professionals, dedicated to enriching the lives of our future citizens have become the targets of petty, corrupt administrations. The numbers are staggering!
It destroys their lives, too. The toll it takes on good people who have dedicated their lives to caring for children would make you weep, if you witnessed the destruction and humiliation . Working tirelessly to overcome the inherent difficulties of teaching in this centuries’ neglected educational institutions, teaching increasingly difficult populations of children, and earning salaries below what it takes to live a decent life, teachers are blind-sided by the manner in which their career is terminated.
No American should be treated like this. But, to subject educated professionals who have done nothing more than excel in their work and dedicate their lives to our children - this is BEYOND CRIMINAL. It is IMMORAL!
DO YOU FIND THIS HARD TO BELIEVE?

If you think this is an exaggeration, you can go to, www.endteacherabuse.com or read "White Chalk Crime" and discover the stories of an astonishing numbers of wonderful teachers who lost everything. It will make you cry... for the teachers, for this country, and for the children.

Anonymous said...

What's happening with our dues money. Here it is again for new readers: From 2006 LM2:

Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report

Period – From 8/1/2005, Through 7/31/2006
Teachers, AFL-CIO, Local Union 2, New York City Teachers
52 Broadway

- Schedule 5 – Investments
- $100,000 State of Israel Bond
- $65,000 State of Israel Bond
- According to the report employees were engaged in the following activities:
o Representational Activities – 46%
o Political Activities and Lobbying – 6%
o Contributions – 0%
o General Overhead – 38%
o Administration – 10%
- So, less than half of the time spent by employees of the Union went towards representing the membership
- Nearly half of the time was used for administrative purposes
- Active members in the Union – 105,792
- Retirees – 49, 331
- Interesting Donations
o National Action Network - $10,000
o West Indian Day Parade - $10,000
o Council for Unity, Inc. - $10,000
o Seaside Summer Concert Series - $30,000
- General Overhead Disbursements
o Regal Cinemedia - $54,120
 Ticket Provider
o NY Hilton and Towers - $641,517
 Meeting Services
o AT&T Teleconference Services - $321,514
 General vendor
o Coffee Distributing Corp. - $101,189
 Coffee provider
o Central Parking System - $82,725
 Parking
o New York Helmsley Hotel - $67,315
 Meeting Services
o AMC Theaters - $67,075
 Ticket Provider
o Waldorf Astoria - $194, 146
 Meeting Serv.
o NY Mets Group Sales Dept. - $8,812
 General Vendor
o Culinart - $1,373,095
 Catering
o Clearview Cinemas - $17,605
 Tickets
o Sheraton New York Hotels - $264,817
 Meeting Service
o Bill Lynch Associates, LLC - $219,572
 Consulting
o Louie & Johnnies Pizza Café - $18,176
 Caterer
o Leo E. Casey - $15,879
 General Vendor
 See the salary report!
o 86th Street Meat Market Inc. - $40,631
 Catering
o Adrian & Rocky’s Catering Services - $29,241
 Catering
o Shore Haven Diner - $20,040
 Catering
o Grand Harmony Restaurant - $12,333
 Catering
o UFT Elementary Charter School - $646,238
 Charter School
o Babs & Boys - $230,000
 Video Provider
o Six Flags Great Adventure - $5,977
 Park Tickets
o The Glover Park Group - $243,165
 Consultant
o

Anonymous said...

And now the salaries from 2006...get some tissues...




Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report
Name Position Total Disbursement Source
Rhonda Weingarten President 263897 Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report
Daniel Acosta Field Rep. 96593
Carmen Alvarez-Scaglion Special Rep. NYSUT 92797 Period – From 8/1/2005, Through 7/31/2006
Susan Amlung Communications 164068 Teachers, AFL-CIO, Local Union 2, New York City Teachers
Amy Arundell Special Rep. 124807 52 Broadway
Robert Astrowsky Special Rep. NYSUT 160917
Charles Baker Asst. CFO 130404
Leroy Barr Special Rep. NYSUT 127969
Michelle Bodden Special Rep. NYSUT 120866
Klaus Bornemann Special Rep. 132156
Jacques Bycinthe Special Asst. 93519
James Callaghan Writer 95131
Leo Casey Special Rep. 133960
Steven Castellano Bldg. manager 103778
Joseph Colletti Special Rep. 128483
Robert Conroy Mngr. - Office Services 81730
Lawrence D'Addona Special Rep. 128990
Michelle Daniels Special Rep. 129280
Ronnie Davis Communications 129887
Helen Doughty Special Rep. 127192
Michael Dubin Chief Financial Officer 201986
Claudette Edwards Admin. Asst. 108644
Paul Egan Special Rep. 126682
Eloise Engler Industrial Hygienist 138142
Christopher Flaherty Director - Admin. Servcs. 131421
Harolyn Fritz Boro. Rep. 164038
Ellen Gallin Procida Special Rep. 129907
Stephen Gappelberg Special Rep. 128696
Carol Gerstl General Counsel 158571
Anne Goldman Special Rep. - NYSUT 131318
Jerome Goldman Boro. Rep. - NYSUT 164819
Jeffrey Goldstein Special Rep. 159546
Rodney Grubiak Special Rep. 128696
Jonathan Gyurko Special Rep. 127939
David Hickey General Manager 211561
Jeffrey Huart Special Rep. 125699
Angela Khan Special Rep. 113978
Marc Korashan Special Rep. 124801
Martha Lane Special Rep. 129726
Elizabeth Langiulli Special Rep. - NYSUT 187248
Joyce Levenson Special Rep. 101771
Joseph Loverde Jr. Writer 113365
Kenneth Lubetsky Special Rep. 135123
Stuart Marques Communications 172788
Mary McAdoo Communications 100166
Michael Mendel Special Rep. 204350
Lawrence Miraldi Editor 172007
Thomas Murphy Special Rep. 157845
John Papas Mngr. - Accounting 115544
Christine Proctor Industrial Hygienist 130972
Gary Rabinowitz Special Rep. 131307
Amina Rachman Special Rep. 147597
Pierrot Raymond Special Asst. 131394
Briget Anne Rein Special Rep. 127739
Marvin Reiskin District Rep. - NYSUT 105549
Sharon Ripley Special Rep. 126175
John Robilotti Special Rep. 131782
Ann Rosen Special Rep. 129990
Eugene Rubin Special Rep. 128227
Abraham Ruda Special Rep. 154625
Burton Sacks Special Asst. 174963
Maureen Salter Communications 144298
Theresa Samuels Special Rep. 127248
Kathy Schiavarelli Supervisor 104976
Howard Schoor Boro. Rep. 154613
Anthony Sclafani Special Rep. 129541
Evelyn Seroy Special Rep. 127497
John Settle Special Rep. 130160
James Sherlock Special Rep. 127754
Barbara Shiller Special Rep. 141344
Barbara Silberman Special Rep. 127661
Howard Solomon Special Rep. 153085
Michael Spielman Writer 113861
Garry Sprung Special Rep. 154694
William Stamatis Special Rep. 135030
Francine Streich Special Rep. 126794
Lucille Swaim Special Asst. 169173
James Tabert Boro. Rep. - NYSUT 162388
Laura Tamburo Special Rep. 127175
Marcia Texidor Supervisor 131635
James Vasquez Special Rep. 112975
Hope Willocks Special Rep. 109781
Donald Wright Mgr. - Accounting 103282
Jeffrey Zahler Special Rep. - NYSUT 151429

Anonymous said...

The salaries come out every UFT election and very few care. Why?

Anonymous said...

The salaries come out every UFT election and very few care. Why?

Anonymous said...

GOOD LUCK TO GCA TEACHERS! What does the Union do with our dues. They do not even represent us. But they have the nerve to spend our money in nonsense. Let's take one of them.
" Six Flags Great Adventure - $5,977"

How did they spend $5,977 at Six Flags? Did RW and her gang went there?

Fidgety said...

I have used my whole box of tissues... what to do now???

DhyanaLee said...

Dear Teachers,

I am a litigant in the Graphics Age Discrimination Suit. I would like to share that we are going to federal court Monday, September 8, 2008 for 10 business/school days.

Let me verify that we have paid dearly from our own pockets to get there. We are fortunate to have a creative and motivated triad of lawyers who will not get rich, nor will we, from a win. This is about justice and reputation, and our rights to teach as we have always enjoyed. It is also about getting fair pay and professional treatment for teachers who have studied and worked hard to earn senior tenure and status.

Support outside Judge Jed Rakoff's courthouse in Southern District would be a joy to behold. The era of Bloomberg/Klein/Resnic needs a serious challenge by educators with backbone.

Thank you, and best regards.

Diana Friedline