Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the jury found in favor of defendant Michele Crumbaugh.
A former high school cafeteria worker who sued the Independence School District for discrimination and retaliation after she was fired has won a judgment of more than $340,000 against the district.
Amy Stubbs had worked as a cook in the cafeteria at William Chrisman High School, where her daughter attended school, until she was fired in May 2015.
In her lawsuit, which went to trial last month in Jackson County Circuit Court, Stubbs said her daughter had been subjected to sexual harassment by students at the school. She said the district didn’t do enough to protect her daughter from the harassment, and that Stubbs was disciplined and eventually fired for complaining to district officials.
On Nov. 17 Jackson County jury awarded Stubbs $40,000 in damages, also assessing punitive damages of $300,000 against the district and $1,000 against the district’s human resources director, Cindy Grant.
The school district issued a statement about the verdict, saying that Stubbs was fired for posting comments on social media about a security issue at a school building. The district did not respond to questions about what those comments were or what the security issue was.
“A decision was made by the school district to not continue Ms. Stubbs’ employment, because she posted comments on social media during her work day concerning a security issue at one of the district’s school buildings, potentially putting staff and students at risk. The district terminated Ms. Stubbs with cause and plans to appeal the verdict,” the statement read in part.
Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit was Michele Crumbaugh, the district’s director of nutrition services. The jury found in favor of Crumbaugh and did not assess damages against her.
According to the lawsuit, the harassment against Stubbs’ daughter began in January 2015. Stubbs repeatedly reported the harassment to her supervisor and to administrators at the high school, but the harassment continued.
Although Stubbs’ supervisor gave her permission to use her phone during work hours to check on her daughter, Stubbs was later disciplined for doing so, according to the lawsuit.
In May 2015, Stubbs went to an assistant superintendent to complain about the harassment against her daughter. A week later, Stubbs was disciplined again, for taking personal calls during work hours. Stubbs took her daughter out of the school.
The same month, Stubbs was fired.
Stubbs filed the lawsuit one year later. The trial began Nov. 13 this year and went to the jury Nov. 17. The jury returned its verdict the same day.