Thursday, May 25, 2017
Former East Middle School nurse sues Joplin R-8 for age, disabilities discrimination
According to the petition, which was filed in January, Staci Chodrick was 55 and had served the district for 20 years when former Executive Director of Student Services Mark Barlass fired her on March 3, 2016, as part of district budget cuts. Barlass resigned under pressure in late 2016 following an indiscretion on district property.
At the time, Chodrick was in her first year at East, where she had been transferred after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. The transfer had taken place as an accommodation for Chodrick, since East had an elevator.
In the petition, Chodrick says she lost her job after Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder was restructuring the district.
"The district was dealing with a significant financial crisis, reflected in significant budget shortfalls. One way in which the district determined to confront the financial crisis was through the termination of employment for more costly administrative and support staff full-time employees."
That affected Chodrick in two ways, according to the lawsuit. Her Parkinson's required more costs to accommodate her and she was at the top level on the pay scale because of her two decades of experience.
Chodrick is asking for actual damages, exemplary damages, and attorney fees on each count.
The lawsuit is one of many that have been filed in recent years against Joplin R-8, which is listed as the only defendant, including lawsuits filed in recent weeks for racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
The number of lawsuits has become an issue in the Chodrick case. In an objection to the plaintiff's interrogatories, Joplin attorney Karl Blanchard, representing the district, says his client should not have to provide information on the number of lawsuits filed in the past 10 years because it would be too much work to find all of them.
"It places an undue burden on defendant."
Blanchard suggests that Chodrick's lawyer, John Scott Dolence of Webb City, look the cases up on case.net. (Dolence might want to check the federal dockets, too.)