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Park School settles gender discrimination lawsuit with EEOC

A Baltimore County private school settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the federal agency alleged the school did not renew the contract of its softball coach because he is a man.

The Park School settled the allegations for $41,000, the EEOC announced Tuesday. The Pikesville school was sued in U.S. District Court on behalf of Richard Schneider, who began coaching the softball team in 2014.

In addition to monetary damages to the coach, the Park School agreed to a two-year consent decree to resolve the lawsuit, prohibiting the Park School from engaging in gender discrimination in the future. The school will also implement a policy prohibiting gender discrimination and retaliation and will provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws and the school’s policies. The Park School will also post a notice about the settlement and employee rights under Title VII and report any future gender discrimination complaints to the EEOC, the agency said.

“Title VII protects both men and women from unequal treatment based on gender,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence in a press release. “We are pleased the Park School worked with us to resolve this quickly, fairly and without incurring unnecessary litigation expenses.”

In a note to the Park School community on Monday, head of school Dan Paradis denied allegations that the school had violated the gender discrimination law but said the school decided to settle the case to resolve the matter “without the time and expense of further litigation.”

“As stated in the court record, The Park School fully supports Title VII and equal opportunities for all people,” Paradis wrote. “We continue to actively search for, hire, and support inspired and inspiring teachers and coaches to work with our Pre-K through Grade 12 gender-inclusive community.”

Schneider’s contract was renewed in 2015 and 2016 and his performance was satisfactory, but the school hired a female head coach for the 2017 season, according to the complaint.

Schneider claimed he was informed his contract was not renewed because of a “preference for female leadership.”

The Park School is a private, coed school for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, according to its website. The school’s athletics include 53 teams in 10 sports.

The lawsuit sought a permanent injunction prohibiting the Park School from engaging in discrimination based on gender and an order to develop and implement non-discrimination policies. It also sought back pay and other compensation for Schneider.

The case is U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Park School of Baltimore Inc., 1:18-cv-02319.

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