North Clackamas School District Loses Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

According to KOIN Local 6, a Clackamas County jury has ruled that a former secretary at Rex Putnam High School was subject to a sexually hostile workplace and that the school district failed to remedy the complaints. A seven day trial included testimony of an ordeal that began in 2004, with a teacher groping near her chest and ended in 2008 when she was terminated from employment.

Tina Smith was awarded $112,000 in damages against the North Clackamas School District, after alleging that instances of abuse took place in February 2006, when a health teacher Phil Joanis, same man who had inappropriately touched her in 2004, forcefully grabbed and pulled her against his erect penis.

The school district reprimanded Joanis by placing a written warning in his personnel file and the district investigated claims, however the jury found the actions taken were not reasonably calculated enough to end the harassment. In the initial complaint, Smith contended her torment continued after the physical harassment instance when the teacher was assigned to a classroom across the hall from her work station.

Due to the proximity of workplace, Smith alleges Joanis often solicited high-fives from her, further prolonging her depressed state. In 2007, Smith was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and took unpaid leave from December 2007 to March 2008.

The suit originally sought $1 million from the school district for wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional stress. However, the jury cleared the school district of any wrongdoing in relations to Smith’s termination.

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