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District Sued for Discrimination Again

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District Sued for Discrimination Again

The court summons document informing the district they are being sued. Courtesy of Fresno Superior Court.

The court summons document informing the district they are being sued. Courtesy of Fresno Superior Court.

The court summons document informing the district they are being sued. Courtesy of Fresno Superior Court.

The court summons document informing the district they are being sued. Courtesy of Fresno Superior Court.

Story By: Frank Lopez, Contributor

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The State Center Community College District is being sued by a former employee of the Fresno City College Police Academy for medical and gender discrimination.

According to documents filed on Nov. 5 2018 at the Superior Court for the County of Fresno, Tami Martin, who held the position of Defendant’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) night coordinator for the Police Academy, filed a complaint for damages for discrimination based on disability/medical condition, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in good faith interactive process, discrimination based on gender, failure to prevent discrimination, and retaliation.

Martin claims that she underwent surgery for breast cancer in August 2017 and was not allowed to return to work and subsequently terminated from her position in late January 2018 by the POST, Gary Fief, “after 10 years of loyal service” with SCCCD.

According to the documents, Martin claims she suffered and continues to suffer from economic damages; non-economic damages; attorneys’ fees and costs and expert fitness fees and is suing to be compensated for her substantial losses.

Timeline

Martin was hired as a part-time adjunct instructor at the FCC Police Academy in June 2008 and through most of her career, worked under her final position of POST night coordinator. She was the only female POST coordinator at the academy.

In 2011, Martin was diagnosed with breast cancer underwent treatment and surgery for cancer which caused her to be off work for nearly five months and returned to work at SCCCD in or about February 2012.

In August 2017, Martin again underwent surgery related to her previous one and, in September, was released to return to work by her treating physician with some restrictions that prohibited her from lifting, pulling, or pushing over 10 pounds.

She requested reasonable accommodation but was told by SCCCD that she could not return to work unless she had a full release.

In December 2017, Martin was released to return to work with no restrictions and kept in communication with Fief from November 2017 through January 2018 about returning to work. She released a copy of her full release doctor’s note but Fief still did not provide her with a schedule and didn’t allow her to return to work.

Martin was fired on or about Jan. 26, 2018.

“MARTIN could have performed her essential functions of her job with the restrictions provided by her treating physician had DEFENDANTS (SCCCD) engaged in the good-faith interactive process and provided MARTIN with reasonable accommodation requested,” the court documents read. “Instead, DEFENDANTS summarily, rejected MARTIN’S request and required MARTIN provide a doctor’s note with no work restrictions.”

Discrimination

According to the documents, SCCCD knew of Martin’s disability and medical condition and refused to engage in the good-faith interactive process required by California Government Code 12940 and refused to provide Martin with a reasonable accommodation and refused her to allow to work for the district.

Martin claims in the suit that SCCCD permitted and condoned the conduct of Fief and others to engage in discriminatory conduct towards Martin on the basis of her sex or gender.

The documents describe that SCCCD treated male employees differently and allowed them to return to work without any medical release for their disability/medical condition, but required Martin to take time off from work when she exceeded her allotted working hours for the semester while allowing male employees to bank their excess hours to be used for time off at a later date.

While Martin was employed with SCCCD, she frequently raised concerns to the district about the treatment of the female cadets in the academy, issues of gender at the academy, discriminatory, inappropriate and sexual comments and conduct by male employees at the academy and the “good ol’ boys club” hiring practices for instructors.

The documents state that such harassment and discrimination included loss of tangible benefits, creating a hostile work environment and eventually termination.

An Ongoing Issue?

This is not the only lawsuit facing the SCCCD in regards to gender discrimination or disability/medical discrimination.

On Oct. 5, 2018, a lawsuit filed against SCCCD by an ASL/Interpreter Training Program Instructor, who was born deaf, claims that the district discriminated against her due to her disability and denied accommodations during her employment.

The ASL instructor filed complaint for damages for discrimination based on disability/medical condition, failure to accommodate and failure to engage in the Good Faith Interactive Processes, and failure to prevent discrimination.

In January of this year, three female head coaches for SCCCD filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and unequal treatment.

SCCCD and a Title IX officer for FCC refused to comment on the matter since it is pending litigation.

A case management conference is scheduled on March 4, 2019.

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District Sued for Discrimination Again