Former JCPS employee sues school district for discrimination

8 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago Tuesday, January 22 2019 Jan 22, 2019 Tuesday, January 22, 2019 2:51:00 PM CST January 22, 2019 in News
By: Steve Lambson, News Content Manager

JEFFERSON CITY - A former Jefferson City Public Schools employee filed a lawsuit accusing the district of discrimination.

Denise Rackers says she is a licensed physical therapist's assistant and worked with children with disabilities. Her petition says she left the district because of a hostile work environment, where she was mocked for a medical disorder.

Jefferson City Public Schools released a statement in response, saying, "Our district's top priority is to protect the learning environment of our students. We intend to aggressively defend this case and look forward to presenting our side during the legal process."

Rackers said she was diagnosed in 2017 with dysautonomia, a disorder affecting the nervous system. She said she told her supervisor - Lynda Weaver - who then allegedly told district officials without Rackers' permission.

Rackers said, on some occasions when she would take leave for her disability, Weaver would mock her, and once suggested she didn't believe Rackers actually needed time off.

The petition said Weaver told Rackers she couldn't miss any more work and would have to adjust her schedule. That, in turn, would have led to a loss of pay and benefits, the petition said.

In January 2018, Rackers said, she met with district officials, who asked her "if she 'needed her job.'" The lawsuit said those officials brought up concerns about Rackers' absences, even though Rackers said all had been approved.

Rackers said she also learned at this meeting about previously unmentioned grievances and concerns about Rackers' work.

Rackers said from that time until she left, she faced added scrutiny. Finally, in May 2018, Rackers said, she had to leave due to "relentless criticism, discrimination, and retaliation by JCPS."

Her lawsuit seeks a jury trial and compensation and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees.

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