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Management And Training

Female janitor sues over discrimination

August 02, 2011
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CHICAGO — A custodian with the Chicago Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against the principal of John Pershing West Magnet School and the district for supposed gender, age, race and disability discrimination, according to a press release.

According to the release, Jessica Benuzzi, who was first hired in 1981, is currently the highest-ranking female custodian at number 13 of 723.

Principal Cheryl Watkins and the longtime custodian allegedly never got along very well, leading to disciplinary action being taken numerous times, the release stated.

Watkins issued a lengthy notice of disciplinary action against Benuzzi that referenced nine incidents dating back to October 2009, including failure to answer a walkie-talkie, failure to turn on the heat, failure to remove tables from the lunchroom and the physical assault of another custodian, the release noted.

In addition to the list of incidents, Watkins issued a memorandum restricting Benuzzi''s presence at the school to the hours of 5:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. unless she obtained permission from the principal or the assistant principal, the release added.

Judge John Tinder said: "We agree with Benuzzi that the sweeping Notice of Disciplinary Action citing petty misdeeds that allegedly occurred months ago, coupled with the unexplained memorandum restricting her access to Pershing, ''could constitute an adverse action within the meaning of the direct method of proving retaliation.''"

Click here to read the complete release.

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