by Valerie Verkamp
The Park Hill School District agreed to pay a $80,000 settlement in an employee discrimination lawsuit.
As reported in last week’s issue of The Landmark, the plaintiff, Terri Sandridge, filed the lawsuit in May 2017, alleging she was subjected to discrimination and was terminated from her position in the accounts payable office on the basis of her disability.
Sandridge, who worked for the district for 17 years, went on short-term disability after a medical procedure on Nov. 11, 2015. Upon her return, Sandridge alleges she was criticized by her superior for being absent too long and was placed on a 90-day action improvement plan for alleged performance problems in the months leading up to her medical
Over the next few months, Sandridge claimed she was disciplined for making miniscule errors and was given an increased workload. To keep up, Sandridge worked overtime but was allegedly told by her superior she was not allowed to document any overtime.
According to the settlement agreement, Park Hill will pay Terri Sandridge a total of $37,619.23. The remaining $42,380 of the settlement amount will be paid to her attorneys, Ryan Paulus and Brittany Mehl.
The settlement payment will be paid for by Park Hill's insurance company. Since the insurance policy is acquired with public funds, the amount of the settlement is public information and was sought by The Landmark through an open records request per the Missouri Sunshine Law.
Half of the amount paid to Sandridge will “constitute payment” for alleged lost wages, which will be subject to taxation. The remaining amount of her settlement payment will compensate Sandridge for the alleged emotional distress damages.
The settlement agreement states no further lawsuit can be brought by Sandridge on the same claims of discrimination.
Sandridge also agreed not to seek re-employment with the district in the future.
Park Hill did not admit to any wrongdoing or liability. Oftentimes a settlement is a means to end costly litigation and avoid an unknown outcome of taking a case to trial.