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Gender discrimination alleged at Park Hill


by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

A lawsuit has been filed against the Park Hill School District and Ryan Kucharo alleging discrimination based upon gender.

Deborah Noonan, 45, of Gladstone, a former systems engineer for the Park Hill School District, filed a lawsuit seeking court remedy alleging she was subjected to a hostile work environment where she was exposed to sexually charged comments and eventually unlawfully terminated.

During her tenure, Noonan provided services to the internal customers of the Informational Technology Department. But when defendant Kucharo was hired on as the systems engineer on Aug. 4, 2012, the suit alleges the work environment turned hostile.

From October 2012 to August 2015, Kucharo was allegedly heard stating, "vaginas, vaginas, vaginas," down the hallway.

At least a couple of women in the department interpreted it as a derogatory statement and took their complaint to human resources. The women say Kucharo was "rude and gender biased," especially toward women he perceived to question his directions, alleges the suit.

During the spring of 2013, Kucharo allegedly told Noonan to "put (her) lady pants on" and "the frickin' women in this department love to cause me grief."

Noonan contends in 2014, Kucharo said "I'm tired of dealing with hysterical women" and "I like to draw gender lines."

The lawsuit alleges Kucharo made a verbal request to Noonan to organize a baby shower for his third child "because women are better at that kind of thing."

Noonan was also asked to clean up the meeting room following employee work functions. According to the lawsuit, Kucharo’s comments appear to become cruder at this point.

Kucharo would leave his dirty dishes in the breakroom and state "some woman will wash them if I don't," alleges the lawsuit. He also allegedly told Noonan "you shouldn't be lifting that you are a woman."

Kucharo allegedly terminated or forced out five female employees between his starting date and August 2015. The suit alleges men were hired to replace all five vacancies.

Noonan alleges her position didn't become shaky until a verbal conversation at the office on July 2015, when Noonan asked Kucharo to trust her to carry out her job duties. Thereafter, Kucharo shut down communications with Noonan and her employment was terminated, the lawsuit alleges.

Noonan alleges she was fired due to false accusations made by Kucharo, which implicated her in disseminating private information in violation of Park Hill's information technology policy and the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act.

Noonan contends the alleged moot ground for her firing was merely in response to a request for access to email that had evidence of a complaint made by another female employee about Kucharo's conduct.

Noonan attempted to explain the factors that led to her termination to an administrative body, yet Park Hill allegedly paid scant attention to this evidence and denied Noonan's request to address the board of education, states the lawsuit.

"She was subjected to a hostile work environment where the overt mistreatment of female employees was tolerated," states the lawsuit against the school district.

Noonan is seeking more than $25,000 for economic losses she may have incurred, including back pay, wages with increases, reimbursement of retirement and attorney's fees. The suit also asks for punitive damages to be awarded to Noonan, and that she be compensated for “humiliation, mental pain, suffering, anguish, and distress she suffered.”

The statements in the lawsuit are merely accusations and have not been deemed true by a court of law.