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Black Teacher Sues School For Race Discrimination

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Utopia Kates, a black physical education teacher at Palisades Charter High School (PCHS), filed a lawsuit against the school for wrongful termination and race discrimination & harassment.

Kates started working at the school in August 2, 2018 as a PE teacher. She completed the required interviews and training and impressed the faculty and school administration. The school being her alma mater, Kates was excited to work there and to be the only black teacher in the department.

As a student at PCHS, Kates excelled in both academic and sports departments. However, she felt unwelcome and was subjected to bullying and harassment from a teacher. She and her mother eventually filed a complaint.

When Kates joined the faculty, she felt some bitterness from the other members. Some of her old teachers are still employed at the school. It seemed that her previous complaint and the resentment from the administration carried on over the years.

On her first day of instruction, Kates found out that she did not receive all her teaching materials from the administration. Her suit claims she was the only one denied of the materials. Despite the lack of resources, she performed her work with the limited materials she had.

At the end of the school day, Amy Nguyen, the school’s director of human resources, called her and told her she was being fired because she “was not a good fit”. Kates said she was shocked. “Why hire and train me, start teaching, only to fire me at the end of the first day?”

Kates spoke to Monica Iannessa, PCHS’s Assistant Principal, about her termination. Iannessa was the one who hired her and thought of her as a valuable asset for the school. She was also shocked to hear of her termination.

As Kates walked out of the school, she was approached by a police officer and was escorted out of the premises.

Kates suit alleges she was terminated due to her race as she was the only black PE teacher.

Race discrimination in the workplace is illegal under federal and state laws. Discrimination based on race or color takes many forms, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Unequal compensation and work conditions
  • Verbal harassment by supervisors and/or co-workers
  • Uneven implementation of employee rules and regulations
  • Failure to promote
  • Illegal termination

If you feel you are being discriminated against, in any way, seek professional assistance from labor and employment law attorneys. Our attorneys at Mesriani Law Group have been successfully fighting for employees’ rights for over twenty years. Contact our office today for a free evaluation of your claims.

About the Author
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Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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