Teacher Continues Fight For Former Job
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 16, 2003
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA--Next Wednesday, a lawyer representing Susan F. Johnson will ask the state Court of Appeals to order Durham Technical Community College to give her old job back to her and to stop its alleged discrimination against people with disabilities.
This will be Johnson's fourth time in court over the issue -- the second at the appellate level -- since her first trial in 1998.
Johnson, who taught reading skills to inmates at the county jail, claims the school decided not to renew her contract because of her polio-related disabilities.
According to the Durham Herald, Johnson fell at the county jail and broke her back while trying to open a heavy door in 1994. Then she fell at home and broke a leg, after which she began using a wheelchair most of the time.
But school officials maintain that Johnson was not fired because of her disability. They say she was fired because of "anonymous telephone calls questioning Johnsons integrity." Those calls included accusations that Johnson was involved in illegal activity with guns and drugs and that she was having relationships with jail inmates.
It is unclear whether the school investigated those accusations before deciding to let her go.
"No victim of discrimination will ever prevail if an employer may be excused from illegal conduct based upon the veiled accusations of an unidentified and unreliable informant," wrote Johnson's attorney, Stewart Fisher, in a brief to the appeals court. Stewart wants the appellate judges to "reject the use of rank hearsay as justification for an unlawful employment decision."