A former teacher at The Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, CA has filed a lawsuit seeking damages after he was forced to resign for being HIV-positive and gay. Details follow.
After switching medications at the request of a doctor in 2011, it seems Matthew Edmondson's relationship with school officials deteriorated.
According to a statement released by Bisner - Chase, Matthew's attorneys:
On numerous occasions, Matthew communicated the side effects of his new medication to recently appointed Head of School, John Zurn and Joseph Williamson, the middle school director.
According to court documents both Zurn and Williamson waged a discrimination campaign against Matthew starting in February 2012, including a series of randomly scheduled meetings under the guise of discussing Matthew's curriculum plans for the coming year even though no other Pegasus teachers were asked to meet to discuss their curriculum plans. It was during these meetings that Zurn and Williamson demanded to know Matthew's reasons for personal time off while criticizing his teaching methods for the first time in his career, despite Matthew's glowing 9-year teaching evaluations.
Matthew unsuccessfully attempted to record one of the randomly scheduled meetings in an effort to document the harassment to which he was subjected. Upon learning of this, Zurn and Williamson demanded that Matthew sign a Confidential Agreement and Release on March 21 or they would contact the District Attorney's office and have him arrested and prosecuted.
Under duress, Matthew signed the agreement two days later and left the school.
"This is a textbook case of workplace discrimination," said Brian Chase, a partner at Bisner - Chase. "What's tragic is that this is a respected teacher, friend and colleague who has spent his entire professional career educating children and helping others. Simply put, Matthew was forced out of his job due to egregious verbal abuse, derogatory comments, insults and threats of criminal prosecution for no other reasons than his sexual orientation and medical condition."