A former Largo High School English teacher was awarded $350,000 compensatory damages by U.S. District Court in a lawsuit against the Prince George’s County school system for retaliation.
According to court documents, Jon Everhart, who is white, attempted to file a race discrimination grievance with the county teacher’s union after the principal, who is black, allegedly used several racial epithets against Everhart in the presence of students, teachers, staff and parents.
The principal did not return multiple phone or email messages to request comment for this story.
Everhart’s suit alleges the principal promised to fire him in “payback” for black teachers fired by white principals.
PGCPS spokesman Max Pugh said neither the school system nor its attorney could comment on the case, due to further litigation pending in district court.
Everhart filed multiple complaints, but the school system did not respond to his accusations, said Bryan Chapman, Everhart’s attorney.
Following the complaints by Everhart and others in 2008, Everhart began receiving unsatisfactory performance reviews, according to Chapman, who said that Everhart had previously been named Largo’s 2005-2006 Teacher of the Year.
After two years of unsatisfactory performance reviews, his employment was terminated August 2010 and his teaching credentials revoked, according to documents filed with the court on behalf of Everhart.
In addition to the $350,000 in damages, Everhart, 65, will also be awarded back pay and retirement benefits, the exact amounts of which have yet to be determined, Chapman said
“This has been a huge relief for Mr. Everhart, because now he can get back to having a normal life,” Chapman said, adding that his client, who now lives in Westerville, Ohio, has been unemployed and has suffered health problems, such as high blood pressure, because of the alleged retaliation.
“Any human being harassed like that is going to get ill,” Chapman said.
The jury found in favor of the school system in Everhart’s claim of hostile work environment, but Chapman said he has filed for a retrial on that charge, adding that the judge did not give the jury mixed motive instructions, which would apply in cases of alleged racial harassment.