Asserting the complaint lacked “any factual basis” the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities has dismissed allegations by former school chief Fran Rabinowitz that Board of Education member Maria Pereira “threatened me regarding loss of job, harassed me continuously by sending threatening emails, phone calls, derogatory statements made in public regarding my race and abilities.” Charles Krich, principal attorney for the human rights agency, wrote the decision declaring the complaint faulty on a number of fronts.
Pereira is fending off complaints that she asserts were orchestrated by Rabinowitz loyalists. The former school chief announced her resignation last Oct. 5 declaring Pereira “created anarchy in the name of democracy.” Rabinowitz, who is white, charged age and racial discrimination against Pereira who is also white. A similar complaint against Pereira filed by Francine Carbone, principal of High Horizon Magnet School, was also dismissed.
Rabinowitz filed her complaint on September 15. It was stamped as received by the state agency September 21, but Pereira was not notified of the complaint until two months later. All of this action took place around the time of a boycott of regular meetings called by then-Board of Education Chair Dennis Bradley who tried to force Pereira’s resignation. In return Pereira called for Bradley’s resignation for boycotting meetings.
In her complaint Rabinowitz, 67, alleges she was harassed by Pereira starting November 2015.
Excerpt from Krich decision:
This leaves the complaint itself to consider. The Complainant charges the Respondent, a member of the Bridgeport Bd. of Education, with “continuous harassment and threats.” These include threatening the Complainant’s employment and sending emails, making phone calls and publically (sic) making derogatory statements “regarding my race and abilities.” Various emails are attached to the complaint to illustrate her charges.
The complaint contains no allegation that the Respondent is the Complainant’s employer. (Were the Respondent the Complainant’s employer, a claim of harassment based on race would state a claim.) The complaint lacks allegations or even any indication that the Bridgeport Bd. of Education as a whole has taken an adverse action or even plans to do so against the Complainant. That the Respondent does not speak for the Board seems evident.
What this means is that the only avenues for the complaint to state a claim would be based on retaliation or aiding and abetting. What sinks the complaint is the lack of information suggesting either activity occurred. The Complainant seems to intend a retaliation claim, but what is lacking is any factual basis for the conclusion. Taking one example, we learn from an email of 2/2/16 that the Respondent accused the Complainant of “absolute insubordination” and threatened to have the Board issue a “formal letter of reprimand,” but the complaint is silent as to whether such a letter was issued. Even if it had, letters of reprimand often are not sufficient to be an adverse employment action, and the complaint never indicates whether the retaliation was on account of opposing a discriminatory practice or for protected activity such as filing a complaint (the Complainant’s other complaints all post-date this incident). In short, the complaint fails to state a cause of action.