Huge Verdict in Employment Discrimination Case Brought By Boston Schoolteachers with Disabilities
Boston public schools have been ordered to pay more than $450,000 to two disabled teachers who accused school officials of discriminating against them and making it so difficult to teach that they had to leave their jobs.
The award to teachers Diana Sabella and Mary McTernan, who are unable to stand or walk for long periods, is one of the highest made by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, said Steven Locke, general counsel for the commission, which handed down the rulings this month. The average award is $40,000 to $50,000, he said.
The teachers filed separate complaints in 1997 after reporting to the school system's Office of Equity that they lacked the help they needed to do their jobs, such as the ability to work a flexible schedule and rest during the day. The commission blasted the office for failing to address the complaints and ordered the school department to train administrators each year in the law. State law entitles disabled staff members to reasonable assistance to do their jobs.
''It was apparent from the decisions that the schools essentially neglected their duties and pretty much ignored the requests by the teachers," Locke said yesterday.