Professional Service Agreement

Employer Will Pay $200K to Employee Who Opposed Discriminatory Application of Dress Code Policy

June 22, 2022

Under a settlement, Groveport Madison Local School District Board of Education in Groveport, Ohio, will pay$200,000 in to resolve allegations that the Board violated Title VII when it discriminated and retaliated against a former assistant principal. The complaint alleges that the assistant principal, who is African American, was unfairly disciplined after he complained that the school district’s dress code policy was being implemented in a manner that discriminated against African-American students. Purportedly, there was discretion in how the dress code was enforced. It stated that “No hoods, hats, coats, bandannas, and sunglasses may be worn in [the] school building or class[.]” The district allegedly interpreted the dress code to prohibit students from wearing du-rags and bonnets, both of which are worn by African Americans to protect hairstyles. Among other things, the assistant principal allegedly noticed a pattern of teachers disproportionately referring African-American students for discipline because of the district’s interpretation of the dress code to prohibit du-rags, and that some dress code requirements that applied more frequently to white students were not being enforced or only being enforced loosely. The complaint alleged that the school district began to retaliate against the assistant principal for complaining about the discriminatory manner in which the dress code was applied, including disciplinary actions against him, putting him on a performance improvement plan, and ultimately, not renewing his contract.