Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Joplin R-8 officials named in sexual harassment, retaliation lawsuit, hostile work environment alleged


A former bus driver for the Joplin R-8 School District filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the district today in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Jammie Quirk, (DOB 1992), Carthage, claims she was fired by the district after she filed sexual harassment claims against fellow bus driver Jason Cannon and against Director of Transportation Justin Henson and employment discrimination and retaliation claims against Cannon, Henson, Superintendent of Operations Matt Harding and HR Director Justin Crawford.

Quirk spelled out her allegations in a charge filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights:

I worked as a school bus driver for Joplin Schools. A male co-worker named Jason Cannon began sexually harassing me in October 2020. He was completely inappropriate and relentless. He told everyone at work that he was in an "open marriage" and repeatedly asked me to have sex, both with him and his wife. 

I repeatedly refused, asked him to stop and leave me alone. But he wouldn't stop. He kept talking inappropriately and making me feel very uncomfortable. He would touch my butt as he walked past me, at least once in front of our boss, Justin Henson. 

After I rejected his sexual advances, and especially after I reported him, Jason aggressively retaliated against me and make me uncomfortable whenever he could. 

My boss Justin Henson also sexually harassed and hit on me. Justin would sometimes kiss me at the office. He also tried to get me to send him naked pictures of myself, offering to pay me money if I did. 

As a single mother with kids, I didn't feel free to completely reject Justin. He was my boss and I was being pressured. I desperately needed to keep my job. So I did go out with him a couple of times and I tried to make it work. But it got uncomfortable since he was my boss, so I told him I would not go out with him again and to stop it. 

He got mad at me for rejecting him and he frequently retaliated against me. Justin would also sometimes touch my butt as he walked past me. I also repeatedly complained to Justin about Jason. But Justin refused to do anything. 

After waiting and waiting for Justin to do something, I finally went over his head and filed a formal complaint. They investigated and found that Jason did harass me on the basis of sex, but even then they didn't take appropriate action. 

What they did was completely unfair and illegal because I, the victim, was retaliated against and punished for complaining about it. There was other retaliation, too. 

The individuals who have engaged in illegal employment discrimination on the basis of sex and retaliation include Dir. Of Transportation Justin Henson, Jason Cannon, HR Director Justin Crawford and Superintendent of Operations Matt Harding. 

The harassment was happening every day, and they intentionally harassed me to make it miserable for me at work. That was all in retaliation for my actions, including not giving in to their sexual demands and for complaining about it. through their pattern of harassment and other retaliation. They constructively discharged me. 

It got so bad that I had no choice but to quit my job. So I did quit, even though it meant taking a large pay cut I could not afford. My last day working for Joplin Schools was December 5 2022. 

I am seeking recovery of all legally permissible relief in this matter including but not limited to compensatory damages, punitive damages, back pay, front pay, and more. I'm filing this because I want to try to get the school district and all of its employees to actually comply with and enforce the laws preventing discrimination at work. Women shouldn't have to go through sexual harassment and retaliation just to keep their jobs. Please force them to stop this.

The district's investigation substantiated the sexual harassment. In a letter sent to Quirk August 24, 2022, HR Director Justin Crawford thanked Quirk for her "willingness to take part in this investigation," and revealed the results.

Based on the information and testimony, we have substantiated the allegations and they did in fact violate Board Policy AC by harassing or discriminating against you on the basis of your gender.

The three-count lawsuit alleges the district committed sexual harassment, retaliation and had a hostile work environment. Quirk, who is represented by Robert D. Curran of the Curran Law Firm of Springfield, is asking for compensatory and punitive damages on all counts and is asking for a jury trial. 

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