PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Four Philadelphia public school teachers have filed suit against the School District of Philadelphia, alleging racial discrimination. The four, who are white, allege that their African-American principal at Thomas Mifflin Elementary School made disparaging remarks about them and insinuated they weren’t able to teach black children (see previous story).
The teachers’ union has also been named as a defendant.
Calls to Patricia Heenan, the attorney of record for the four teachers and the School District of Philadelphia, have not been returned.
Dan O’ Meara (below right), chair of the labor and employment section of the local Montgomery McCracken law firm (which has no connection to the case), says federal law anti-discrimination law applies.
“If they were discriminated against, they would have a claim under either federal Title VII or so-called Section 1981, another federal law,” he explains. “The standards they would be judged by would are the same legal standards as would be applied to a case where an African-American would be alleging race discrimination.”
And O’Meara says this is not the only case of its kind.
“There are reverse discrimination suits brought across the country (but) they are not near as common. Some succeed, some don’t. It’s a very fact-intensive inquiry. As a general matter, I’ve observed that judges tend not to take the cases too seriously, so typically the white plaintiffs bringing the cases want to get them in front of a jury,” he told KYW Newsradio.
He says that it may be a tough case to prove but it depends on the evidence they have. Were there witnesses? Documents or e-mails to support what the teachers allege? O’Meara says these items will be crucial.
O’Meara says that labor unions are not typically named in these suits, but if the union facilitated discrimination of any kind it could be held legally accountable.
Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060
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