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Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs Wins $25 Million Verdict in Retaliation Case
By: Charles Communication Group
Dr. Michael Ross, a former teacher in the school district, alleged he was fired in 2019 in retaliation for having previously brought a discrimination suit, and because he'd spoken out about sexual misconduct by a district custodian. Dr. Ross had served for 25 years as the only African American male teacher in the system, which is located in La Puente in Los Angeles County.
Diggs successfully argued in Los Angeles Superior Court that after settling his 2016 discrimination lawsuit, officials at BUSD retaliated by ultimately terminating Dr. Ross less than 40 days later.
"The jury awarded our client $25 million, which included back pay and emotional damages," said Diggs, who also represented Ross in the previous lawsuit against the district. "The jury got it right. He was terminated for pretextual reasons."
In 2016, represented by Diggs and Engelman, Dr. Ross settled his lawsuit against BUSD for discriminated and harassed against him solely on the basis of his race. Diggs described a litany of discriminatory acts Ross endured while employed by the district including racial epithets with Ross' name spray painted on the school's campus and anonymous racially charged letters in his mailbox, which were accessible to others in the administration.
Dr. Ross settled that lawsuit while still employed with the district, only to be placed on administrative leave after officials wrongly claimed he had falsified time records during a summer school session. Dr. Ross' leave extended to two years before he was terminated.
"Filing a discrimination lawsuit six years ago on behalf of Dr. Michael Ross so angered officials at Bassett Unified School District that they retaliated by ultimately terminating Dr. Ross," Diggs noted.
Diggs added that while the lawsuit was successful in proving the role discrimination played in Dr. Ross' termination it is only one case in what continues to be a national epidemic.
"This sort of prejudice should not occur with anyone's employer ever," he noted. "What was important here is that Dr. Ross has been compensated for this injustice, and that a jury of his peers understood that this sort of discrimination and retaliation should not occur as well. That was evident by them awarding $25 million."
Rodney S. Diggs (https://www.imwlaw.com/
A partner at the Los Angeles-based law firm of Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell and Diggs, Rodney S. Diggs is a practiced litigator with substantial experience trying cases to verdict in federal and state courts.