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South Passaic Daily Voice serves Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, North Haledon, Passaic, Paterson, Prospect Park, Totowa, Wayne & Woodland Park

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Appellate Panel: Paterson Did Not Discriminate Against Teacher With Lupus

The Paterson Public School District did not discriminate against a longtime  teacher with lupus,  according to a recent decision by a Superior Court Appellate panel.
The Paterson Public School District did not discriminate against a longtime teacher with lupus, according to a recent decision by a Superior Court Appellate panel. Photo Credit: File

PATERSON, N.J. – A longtime Paterson teacher was not discriminated against in her workplace, according to a decision by a Superior Court Appellate panel, made public Tuesday.

The two-judge panel upheld an earlier determination that the state Attorney General Office's Division on Civil Rights made on the matter.

The teacher – whose identity has not been released in order to protect her medical privacy –claimed the Paterson Public School District did not properly accommodate her and her lupus-related symptoms.

The case has been winding through the court system since 2010, when the teacher filed a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights alleging the district failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations for her disability, subjected her to a hostile work environment based on her disability, and retaliated against her for requesting accommodations.

She complained that certain assignments and relocations of her classroom in the three-floor Paterson Public School 11 building were insensitive to her needs to avoid climbing stairs or walking too far, and her need to be near a bathroom.

An earlier decision made by an Administrative Law Judge found that although the teacher had difficulty climbing stairs, she was capable of doing so, she “is able to walk reasonable distances” and she does not need to be near a bathroom at all times.

“We believe the Courts ruling is consistent with the record in this case,” said Craig T. Sashihara, director of the Division on Civil Rights. “There was no dispute as to whether the teacher had a disability. But there was insufficient evidence to support her claim that the school district failed to reasonably accommodate her disability. Nor was there sufficient evidence to support her contention that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation for seeking accommodations.”

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