Today, I’m going to tell you the story of a man that has now sued the same employer four times.
It’s a bit like the Buffalo Bills of employment litigation, except the plaintiff here hasn’t suffered a fourth defeat…yet.
Fake Don Beebe and the Four Lawsuits.
For purposes of today’s blog post, I’ll refer to the plaintiff in this recent federal court decision as Don Beebe, one of the members of the Buffalo Bills teams that lost four straight Super Bowl.
(The plaintiff is not actually Don Beebe.)
Fake Don Beebe was a former teacher in a Kansas school district, where he taught for about 16 years. During that time, he received several bad evaluations, was transferred from coaching girls’ basketball based on a report of inappropriate sexual conduct, and was discharged as a boys’ coach due to performance issues.
And, unlike the real Don Beebe, Fake Don Beebe was litigious.
Lawsuit #1 (1991): Fake Don Beebe sues the school district for race discrimination and retaliation. He lost, and the court ordered him to pay attorney fees.
In 2000, Fake Don Beebe submitted an application to the school district for teaching and coaching jobs, but he wasn’t considered for re-hire because of his past employment record with the school district.
Lawsuit #2 (2004): Fake Don Beebe sues the school district for race discrimination and retaliation. He lost (and lost the appeal too.)
Five years later, in the summer and fall of 2009, Fake Don Beebe applied for three positions with the school district: head coach, substitute teacher, and special education teacher. Plaintiff and his lawyer met with the school district’s superintendent, lawyer, and a board member. The lawyer frowned on hiring someone with a prior allegation involving sexual incident with a student, so the school district passed.
Lawsuit #3 (2010): Fake Don Beebe — stop if you’ve heard this one before — sues the school district for race discrimination and retaliation. He lost (and lost the appeal too.)
On July 15, 2016, Fake Don Beebe submits an online application for an open position as a substitute teacher. And, here’s where things go a little bit differently. Fake Don Beebe interviewed with someone who did not know his history with the school district. Notwithstanding, the school district selected someone else for the position.
Undeterred, the following month, Fake Don Beebe interviewed with another school official who did not know that Fake Don Beebe had previously worked for the district. After the interview, she referred his application to the district’s Human Resources department.
Except, once Fake Don Beebe’s application reached Human Resources, it advised that Fake Don Beebe was not eligible for rehire due to his job performance.
Lawsuit #4 (2017): Fake Don Beebe sues the school district for race discrimination and retaliation.
Did Fake Don Beebe finally chase down his Fake Leon Lett?
(As an aside, I couldn’t find any Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl highlights from the last 20 years on YouTube. I wonder why. But, I digress…)
Last week, a Kansas federal court ruled that Fake Don Beebe could continue to pursue his claims for now. Why? Because the defendant was unable to establish that any of the prior three lawsuits completely extinguished Fake Don Beebe’s claims of race discrimination and retaliation:
Unlike plaintiff’s prior lawsuits, this lawsuit stems, at least in part, from plaintiff’s application for a specific, open position in this district and defendant’s particular hiring decision for that position….Dr. Harrington rejected plaintiff’s application after comparing his candidacy with another candidate whom she allegedly deemed more qualified. The record is also not clear whether Human Resources rejected plaintiff’s efforts to obtain employment as a substitute teacher based on the 2001 no-rehire policy or based more generally on plaintiff’s prior job performance and an updated, independent assessment of that performance. Under these facts, defendant has not shown how plaintiff’s claims reasonably could have been brought in one of plaintiff’s prior lawsuits.
What I didn’t tell you was that the school district tried to dismiss the fourth lawsuit before the parties had taken any discovery. The school will get a second bite at the apple after discovery. So, Fake Don Beebe still has a long road ahead of him to prevail on his employment claims.
Will he chase down his Fake Leon Lett?
Try not to let the suspense consume you.