I wrote about this case previously here. A woman filed an EEOC charge but was then elected to the school board of the employer against whom she had filed. Alma Rosa Guzman-Estrada worked for Southside Independent School District for 30 years when she was fired in 2010. Ms. Guzman-Estrada says she was fired two months after she asked why her pay was less than that of male colleagues doing the same work. Ms. Guzman-Estrada was elected to the school board for Southside Independent School District in 2011.
As Trustee for the school district, she submitted settlement demands to her former employer in the range of $600,000 and $800,000. As I mentioned at the time, those seem like very high amounts, perhaps bordering on frivolous. Compensatory and punitive damages are limited to $300,000. In December, 2011, she had only been out of work for about a year. So, unless her salary was $500,000/year, her settlement offers were way too high. It is not surprising, therefore, that the parties have not agreed on a settlement. The Defendant would have better chances with a judge or jury.
The School Board Trustee had her trial this week in front of Judge Hudspeth. Apparently, the parties waived a jury. During the trial, the defense claimed she was divisive and engaged in gossip. The judge has already dismissed her discrimination claims. So, her trial is simply about whether she suffered retaliation for asking about posible discrimination. Her supervisor testified he recommended she be terminated after her grievance, but said he had problems with her before her grievance. He said Ms. Guzman would undercut him with subordinate employees. He said another employee accused her of calling him a “wetback,” a derisive term for undocumented immigrants.
The Plaintiff’s lawyer, however, said none of these problems were documented at the time they occurred. Olga Brown says her client was not warned about these supposed incidents verbally or in writing. See San Antonio Express News report.
It always looks suspicious when a 30 year employee is fired. It took Southside ISD 30 years to find out she was divisive? And, if the Defendant cannot establish these alleged problems actually did occur, then the former employee should win. But, her chances of getting $800,000 or $600,000 are very low indeed. The Judge will make the decision regarding liability.