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March 2011

Denver Employment Team Wins Summary Judgment Victory

Denver office team, including Associate Heather Kelly obtained a summary judgment victory in an employment lawsuit filed against a school district in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.  The plaintiff, a 10-year former principal in the school district, asserted seven different claims against the school district, including claims of discrimination based on her sex (female), race (Hispanic), national origin (Mexican), retaliation, substantive and procedural due process and breach of contract. 

The plaintiff alleged that she was terminated due to her support of the district’s bilingual programs and Hispanic community.  The plaintiff was the only Hispanic principal in the school district.  The school district is comprised of 77% Hispanic students with a significant percentage of students speaking English as a second language.  The termination of the plaintiff’s employment, as well as the district’s change in its bilingual policy, garnered local media exposure, including coverage of a student led boycott of standardized testing in support of the plaintiff after she was terminated. 

Gordon & Rees argued the plaintiff’s termination was neither discriminatory nor retaliatory and, in particular, that the district had a legitimate reason for the termination based on insubordination.  Further, Gordon & Rees asserted the plaintiff could not establish the district’s policies were discriminatory and/or retaliatory toward her individually.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado agreed and summarily dismissed all claims against the school district as well as awarding the district its costs.

Heather K. Kelly



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